In the wake of Unipart Automotive’s demise, Unipart Group sought to differentiate itself from the business that had been sold to H2 Equity Partners in 2011. The Unipart Group has now confirmed its commitment to another automotive business carrying the Unipart name. Unipart will develop the Unipart Car Care Centre proposition in order to make it more robust and compelling for both garages and motorists.
The Unipart Group has released a statement on Unipart Automotive’s descent into administration and the partial rescue by a joint deal between Andrew Page and The Parts Alliance. While expressing sympathy for the company’s plight, the Unipart Group sought to delineate the boundary between the Unipart business units of which it remains in control and the stricken parts distributor.
Automotive parts business Andrew Page has rescued around 350 jobs, spearheading a deal with The Parts Alliance to takeover 33 branches of Unipart Automotive, which entered administration today. Andrew Page has taken 21 branches and The Parts Alliance a total of 12, with the terms of the deal as yet undisclosed. Andrew Page rejoined major UK and Ireland buying and distribution group The Parts Alliance following a six year absence on 8 July, coinciding with Unipart Automotive’s announcement that it had put the administrators on standby, a clear signal that some kind of move was on the cards. Tyrepress estimated Andrew Page possessed a growing share of the automotive parts market of around seven per cent at the time; the company will expect today’s news will help to grow that share quickly, having increased its existing network of 93 branches by 23 per cent.
Unipart Group wishes to make clear that it is a separate entity to Unipart Automotive. The company has published the following statement on its website: “Recent press coverage has confused Unipart Automotive with Unipart Group. It is important to note that Unipart Group and Unipart Automotive are different companies.
At the end of last week Unipart Automotive renewed its intention to appoint administrators, which several sources have named as being KPMG. This is significant because, as was the case when news of the rescue talks broke on 8 July, such an announcement not only raises the possibility of the company entering administration but it can also provide a moratorium which acts as protection for a limited time.
While there hasn’t yet been a clear outcome of the Unipart Automotive rescue talks, new bidders have entered into takeover discussions. Sources close to the talks have confirmed to Tyres & Accessories that buyout firm R Capital, which is known for an earlier rescue of the Little Chef chain in 2007 (the café business was sold to Kuwaiti investors last year) has now entered the Unipart Automotive rescue talks.
Sources are reporting that the Unipart Automotive rescue bids have been received and we are likely to hear the outcome in the next 24 hours, but these claims could not be officially verified. Earlier in the week separate sources close to the negotiations told Tyres & Accessories they were expecting talks to conclude towards the end of the week, which would seem to fit into the same timeframe. With managers saying they were hopeful talks could be wrapped up in 36 hours at the beginning of the process on 8 July, the fact that almost 10 days have now passed suggests things are becoming increasingly urgent. It is also putting pressure on its loyal workforce. However, the official line from shareholders Unipart Group and H2 Equity as well as one of the three bidders Euro Car Parts has been a unified “no comment”.
We know Unipart Automotive is in need of a buyer. We know at least three companies including Euro Car Parts and Better Capital are talking to the owners about a takeover/rescue plan. But a lot remains unknown and so Unipart Automotive’s roughly 1600 employees are facing a great deal of uncertainty while the talks continue causing some to consider their employment options moving forward.
With numerous sources reporting that loss-making parts firm Unipart Automotive is just days away from a rescue plan (which you might read as a sales of the company), and with at least three bidders being associated with the deal, fast-growing rival Euro Car Parts could be seen as a front runner. But first a little background. Following the initial news reports Unipart Automotive was close to calling in the administrators on 8 July, a day later minority shareholder Unipart Group clarified its relationship to Unipart Automotive:
Unipart Group and H2 Equity Partners have officially completed the previous announced deal that sees H2 acquire a controlling stake in Unipart Automotive, one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of car parts, workshop consumables and garage equipment.
H2 Equity Partners has announced plans to acquire a controlling stake in Unipart Automotive, the UK’s largest independent supplier of car parts, workshop consumables and garage equipment. Unipart Automotive is currently owned by Unipart Group. The agreement, which is expected to be concluded shortly, sees H2 Equity Partners taking majority ownership in the UK operation. Unipart Group will hold onto 49.9 per cent. Patrick Kalverboer, managing partner at H2, will become executive chairman of the new company.