News : Unipart Automotive enters administration

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Once seen all over Britain, the logo of British Leyland's once enormous parts division is set to disappear as the automotive parts supplier goes into administration
Once seen all over Britain, the logo of British Leyland’s once enormous parts division is set to disappear as the automotive parts supplier goes into administration

Parts supplier Unipart Automotive has gone into administration, putting around 1,300 jobs at risk and seeing yet another of the former elements of the BMC/BL/Austin Rover Group slide into the annals of motoring history.

While the parent group, Unipart Group, its rail operations and Car Care Centre franchises will continue to operate outside of the administrative process, the automotive components and parts counter services are likely to disappear, with the exception of 33 Unipart sites that are to be acquired by rival motor factors Andrew Page Ltd and The Parts Alliance.

That leaves around 160 Unipart Automotive sites that look set to close their doors imminently, and the Unipart name – once synonymous with OEM Austin Rover parts only – to disappear from industrial estates across the UK.

The Unipart name has had less and less of an association with the former Rover Group companies since it became independent from Austin Rover in 1987, following a management takeover. Under the deal, Unipart retained an exclusivity clause to be the sole supplier of Rover parts until 2002, though it’s not clear if the dwindling numbers of Rover cars on the roads in subsequent 12 years have had a direct impact on the Unipart Automotive business performance.

Rover Group, under BMW stewardship, tried to buy back Unipart in 1995 for 300 million pounds, but the deal was rebuffed by Unipart Chief Executive John Neill, who remains Chairman and CEO of the Unipart Group to this day.

“We are saddened by the Unipart Automotive situation,” said Neill. “But we know Andrew Page well and respect their near 100-year presence in the Automotive aftermarket. We are pleased to support (Andrew Page CEO) Jim Sumner’s plans to secure the future for a number of branches and former Unipart Automotive people.”

 

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

17 Comments

  1. I think it should be clear that Unipart Group sold Unipart Automotive in 2011 to H2 Equity Partners. So Unipart Group is not actually the parent company.

    • Indeed. From Unipart Group’s website:
      “We were saddened to hear that Unipart Automotive, the company we sold in 2011, has gone into administration. Recent press coverage has confused Unipart Automotive with Unipart Group. It is important to note that Unipart Group and Unipart Automotive are different companies.

      “Unipart Automotive, the branch network which was previously known as Partco, was sold by Unipart Group to H2 Equity Partners in 2011. Unipart Group retained an equity stake, but a condition of the sale was that Unipart Group exercised no control over the business. Unipart Automotive was granted a restricted licence to use the Unipart brand on a limited range of wholesale outlets and a tightly controlled range of automotive car parts.”

  2. How significantly will this effect parts supply for MGR cars?

    X Part have this guaranteed until 2015 don’t they?

    Rimmer Bros too……

  3. This is purely the demise of the Part Co division formerly of Unipart and should not affect the parts availability for MG Rover and legacy Austin Morris vehicles, as XPart, Rimmers, British Motor Heritage, Mini Spares, and a host of aftermarket sources still exist to support the majority of parts.

  4. I must admit I thought Unipart had got out of cars some time ago. Whenever I hear the name these days it always seems to be associated with the Rail Industry where they seem to be a major player. Surprised to hear that a company sharing the name but a separate organisation was still in the automotive business.

  5. Unipart Grup’s roots were indeed in the automotive parts business but it looked at what its core strengths were – logistics – and built its business around that. Its original business did not fit in with this hence its sale of Unipart Automotive three years ago.
    Unipart Group is still involved in the automotive sector and runs Jaguar’s spare parts service in North America.

  6. Worth noting that Andrew Page’s CEO Jim Sumner is (quite apart from being the namesake of the founder of the Lancashire Steam Motor Co which became Leyland Motors), also the former boss of Optare (inc. during the period it was bought by Ashok Leyland) and Leyland Trucks. So, if nothing else, there is heritage there.

  7. Certainly, parts for my Rover 75 are supplied by XPart and not Unipart. I think you will find that the likes of Rimmers etc also buy their parts from XPart.

  8. Very sad news, I was only saying to a friend last week that I liked the fact that the unipart branding has more or less stayed the same since the 70s
    A few years ago I was working on a track renewal site at Colchester (I’m a train driver) an noticed a newly installed point motor, as the cover pressing is obviously an old design it had the BR double arrow molded into it but as it was new it had a unipart sticker on it. My thoughts were’ excellent two former bastions of British industry!’
    Another part of our heritage bites the dust

  9. I can’t really get worked up about this. Unipart Automotive had become increasingly irrelevant as it has become easier to source commodity car parts direct from the OEM makers. They stopped being a maker of parts years and years ago and were just another re-brander/distributor trading on a worn-out brand image.

  10. Why is it a worn out brand image? This is typical of this country millions wasted rebranding companies for no reason other than some overpaid consultant recommends it to line the pockets or his or her overpaid marketing consultant friend!!!

  11. Sad to hear about this! I heard it wasn’t doing too well. Gutted for the 1300 employees. I agree with Russ too, what’s the point? The only one that benefits is the consultant.

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