Notts dealer in trouble

NOTTINGHAM Auto Park – owned by Drive Assist UK – could be heading into administration, Car Dealer believes.

An anonymous tipster told Car Dealer the dealership’s parent company Drive Assist was heading into administration, however, despite our attempts to get in touch with the company we are struggling to confirm this officially.

A call to the dealership in Nottingham didn’t confirm it either. The member of staff we spoke to said they couldn’t comment on the administration, but when asked if members of the public could buy a car we were told it was ‘not advisable’ at the moment. The Nottingham Auto Park website is also currently down.

Drive Assist is the UK’s fifth largest accident management company. Our contact told us the firm’s directors consider Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP to be the ultimate controlling party. They funded a £250m buy-out of the company in 2007.

However losses have been increasing in recent years. Drive Assist figures for the year to May 2011 showed turnover down 32 per cent to £107.3m. Pre-tax loss for the year was £233.4m (the previous year was £24.9m) due to a £188m hit on a ‘permanent diminution in value of goodwill’.

The firm’s balance sheet value shows a negative value of £320m – the previous year negative value of £89m.

Our contact added: ‘In the year to May 2011 they lost two major contracts which reduced turnover considerably. As a result they had to restructure by reducing costs and head count to match the new levels of business. Staff numbers fell from 1,409 to 1,005.’

Car Dealer will be continuing to attempt to contact the firm and will report back when official comment is released or when someone answers the phone.

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