UK labour body, Unite, is expressing surprise no-one came in with a bid for Unipart Automotive, which yesterday (24 July) went into administration with the loss of more than 1,200 jobs.

Administrator, KPMG, has sold elements of the business in a joint deal to car parts distributor, Andrew Page, which acquired 21 branches and The Parts Alliance, which bought 12, but Unite remains frustrated no full buyer was found.

"You would have thought someone like Unipart - you would have thought someone would have wanted to pick that up," Unite national officer for the automotive sector, Roger Maddison, told just-auto from Coventry, not far from Unipart's headquarters of Solihull in Birmingham.

"I am absolutely gutted. I am sure we have many members and people who have worked there for a long time, who will be devastated by the news and who have very little information."

Mark Orton, Will Wright and Jonny Marston from KPMG, have been appointed joint administrators to Unipart Automotive, which was one of the UK's largest independent suppliers of car parts, workshop consumables and garage equipment.
 
Headquartered in Solihull, the company operated a network of 180 branches and distribution hubs trading under the Unipart Automotive, Partco Autoparts and Express Factors brands, employing 1,813 people.

Some 361 staff have been transferred to Andrew Page and The Parts Alliance with immediate effect.
 
"Despite intensive efforts over recent weeks, a sale of the whole Unipart Automotive business could not be reached and a buyer could only be found for 33 of the sites on a going concern basis," said Orton.

"Unfortunately, the business had been experiencing financial stress for a number of years, so the level of cash and further operational restructuring required to rescue a more substantial part of the business posed too much risk for most interested parties. 
 
"Our team of employment specialists will be supporting all staff on completing redundancy forms and putting them in touch with job seeker services. We will now be reviewing what options are available for the remainder of the business, such as selling leasehold interests."
 
The company also directly supported more than 700 independent, owner-operated garages through its Unipart Car Care Centre programme, in addition to having 19 franchisees.

These companies fall outside of the administration and will continue to operate as normal.

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