April 3, 2009

A familiar combination of cash-flow problems and unhelpful bankers has led to the demise of another familiar industry name.

In September 2007, Autodex which then described itself slightly long-windedly as “the largest privately owned accident repair centre group in Southern England”, was celebrating 40 years in business and its recent acquisition of three new sites in Croydon, Reading and Wimbledon ‚ the latest in a long line of purchases.

A month later, with an interview with managing director Richard Fagan ‚ not to be confused with his father the firm’s founder Ricky Fagan ‚ culled from Bodyshop Magazine, press releases on the firm’s formerly regularly updated web site abrubtly dry up.

Based on a statement issued by Autodex last month and quoted in Post Magazine it seems that when ‚ with average debtors days already running at around 90 days ‚ orders dried up in January and February this year, the group faced a cash-flow crisis and approached lenders with a view to securing additional funding or renegotiating its existing facility. The bank however decided to pull the plug.

The statement said: “Autodex ceased accepting new work at the beginning of March as the sales process had commenced. It was initially hoped that a single buyer would be found for the whole group but it was subsequently decided that a breakup of the sites would attract more buyers and result in a speedier sales process.”

The company has now been put into voluntary administration “to protect the business whilst the remaining sites and assets sales are finalised.” It is not know how many of the former Autodex sites will continue functioning as accident repair workshops.

In the 2007 Bodyshop Magazine quoted above Richard Fagan commented: “Motor body repair is not seen as a desirable activity in terms of planning permission by many local authorities. So potentially the existing sites with planning permission may fetch a premium longer term.”

Mind you, he did say that when, as he put it, “There is a great premium for good commercial locations, whatever the use, in London and the M25.”

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