Global car rental firm with Norfolk branches files for bankruptcy in the US

PUBLISHED: 13:52 23 May 2020

File photo of a Hertz car rental branch closed during the coronavirus pandemic in Paramus, New Jersey, USA. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

File photo of a Hertz car rental branch closed during the coronavirus pandemic in Paramus, New Jersey, USA. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

A global car rental firm which has branches in Norfolk has filed for bankruptcy due to debt and the halt put on world travel following the coronavirus outbreak, it has emerged.

Court documents have revealed Hertz, which has more than 400 outlets across the UK and Ireland, including three in Norwich, was 18.7 billion US dollars (£15.3bn) in debt at the end of March with only 1 billion dollars (£820m) of available cash.

It was recently forced to cut 12,000 people from its global workforce and put another 4,000 on furlough, but the measures came too late to save the 102-year-old business.

Starting in mid-March, the company lost all revenue when travel shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and it started missing debt payments in April.

Hertz, which has branches in Norwich at Norwich Airport, Norwich B&Q on Boundary Road and Sprowston Homebase on Roundtree Way, has been approached for comment over the implications of the bankruptcy on its British and Irish operations.

Hertz has also been plagued by management upheaval, naming its fourth chief executive in six years on May 18.

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Former boss Kathryn Marinello said that “no business is built for zero revenue” on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call on May 12.

She added: “There’s only so long that companies’ reserves will carry them.”

Hertz’s bankruptcy protection filing has not come as a surprise.

In its first-quarter report filed earlier in May with securities regulators, the company warned that it may not be able to repay or refinance debt and may not have enough cash to keep operating.

It said: “Management has concluded there is substantial doubt regarding the company’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year from the issuance date of this quarterly report.”

Under a Chapter 11 restructuring, creditors will have to settle for less than full repayment, but the business is likely to continue operating.

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