Andrew Page sales top £200m following Unipart Automotive deal

YORKSHIRE-BASED vehicle parts distributor Andrew Page has spearheaded a joint deal for collapsed rival Unipart Automotive which will drive its sales above £200m.

The move sees Leeds firm Andrew Page team up with The Parts Alliance to buy 33 branches and save 361 jobs after Unipart Automotive, one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of car parts and workshop and garage equipment, saw joint adminstrators from KPMG appointed today.

Mark Orton, Will Wright and Jonny Marston from KPMG were appointed joint administrators to Unipart Automotive which operated a network of 180 branches and distribution hubs trading under the Unipart Automotive, Partco Autoparts, and Express Factors brands, employing 1,813 staff.

The deal, which is for an undisclosed sum, means that Andrew Page has taken 21 branches and The Parts Alliance a total of 12.

Andrew Page secured a refinancing deal with Leeds-based investment house Endless and Phoenix Equity Partners earlier this year.

“The Unipart Automotive situation is extremely sad as we know many of their team with whom we have long standing industry relationships. However, I would like to say on a personal level that it has been a privilege to be able to help contribute to saving a number of the jobs involved,” said Jim Sumner, executive chairman of Andrew Page.

“This development also now puts us well on the way to achieving our stated goal of building a truly national distributor with a network of over 150 branches – this acquisition will take us to 114.”

“This highly complex deal has only been possible through the backing of a number of people – we would not have been able to do it without the support of John Neill, chairman and chief executive of the Unipart Group (which is a separate business from Unipart Automotive), and his team.  They worked with us in a very constructive and collaborative way and we look forward to building a strong ongoing relationship with them.  Also The Parts Alliance our investor partners Phoenix Equity Partners and in particular Endless LLP who have been key to enabling this transaction to be completed”, said Mr Sumner.

John Neill, chairman and chief executive of The Unipart Group, said: “We are saddened by the Unipart Automotive situation but we know Andrew Page well and respect their near 100 year history in the automotive aftermarket.  They have a strong reputation for selling high-quality products and brands and we’re pleased to have been able to support Jim Sumner’s plans to secure a future for the number of branches and former Unipart Automotive people.  We look forward to working with Andrew Page to ensure the continued supply of high-quality Unipart branded products to Britain’s car owners and Unipart Car Care Centres.

Indra Harrison, investment director at Endless, commented: “We pulled together this rescue deal in less than five days from offer to completion, which is testament to the working relationship between Andrew Page, The Parts Alliance and Unipart Group.  We are very excited about the future, working with our new partners and this transaction will accelerate Andrew Page’s sales well beyond £200m.”

The sites saved include those in Northallerton, Sheffield and Barnsley while Unipart sites closing in this region include Hull, Leeds, Scunthorpe, Bradford, York, Wakefield, Harrogate, Grimsby, Keighley and Doncaster.

Mark Orton of KPMG said: “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.

“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.”

Unipart Automotive was sold by Unipart Group to a company controlled by H2 Equity Partners in 2011. Unipart Group retained a 49% stake, but a condition of the sale was that it exercised no control over the business.

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