Jobs saved in 11th-hour buyout bid

IAN CLARKE A Norfolk-based parts and services company - which used to be part of doomed trailer maker Crane Fruehauf - has been bought out in an 11th-hour deal for a second time.

IAN CLARKE

A Norfolk-based parts and services company - which used to be part of doomed trailer maker Crane Fruehauf - has been bought out in an 11th-hour deal for a second time.

About 50 jobs have been saved in Dereham - and a total of 211 nationwide - after FP&S was bought by Midlands-based TTD just hours after it went into administration.

The EDP understands the company was £1.7m in debt and some suppliers face not being paid money they are owed.

The whole operation was “very, very close” to shutting before TTD agreed to buy it as a going concern.

TTD is part of Bullwell UK, which is a long-established company in the commercial vehicle parts market.

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FP&S - whose head office and main national distribution centre are at South Green in Dereham - lost a major contract earlier this year and encountered “significant trading difficulties”.

It was formed in February last year after a management buyout of the original Fruehauf Parts and Services business and that deal was also done at very short notice.

FP&S went into administration on Monday and PricewaterhouseCoopers completed the sale to TTD.

Stephen Oldfield, partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “FP&S were experiencing significant trading difficulties following the loss of the contract and there was a real risk of business closure. By working with management, we were able to find a buyer for the business as a going concern, saving all of the workforce's jobs, many of which are based here in East Anglia.”

While there was relief that the business had been saved, there is concern about the business's long-term future in Dereham.

One industry insider said: “There are doubts that a company will keep its national distribution centre in the middle of Norfolk.”

There is also anger from suppliers who have lost money after the business went into administration twice.

One sole trader - who did not want to be named - was owed about £20,000 from the demise of Crane Fruehauf and Fruehauf Parts and Services and is still owed about £1,000 from FP&S.

“What really galls me is overnight dumping of debt. Companies should not be allowed to do it and I think it is morally reprehensible.”

Rumours have also been constantly circulating that the parts and services base could move from the South Green site which could be redeveloped for housing.

No one from TTD was avail-able to comment last night.