Unipart Automotive, which provided distribution services for automotive aftermarket parts in the UK, has been placed in administration. Originally known as Partco and a division of the tier supplier and logistics company Unipart Group, the business was sold to H2 Equity Partners in 2011 and became a standalone entity. However, it has been facing financial difficulty for sometime according to administrators KPMG.

“Despite intensive efforts over recent weeks, a sale of the whole Unipart Automotive business could not be reached, and a buyer could only be found for 33 of the sites on a going concern basis,” said Mark Orton, partner at KPMG and joint administrator.

The collapse of Unipart Automotive affects 180 sites in total, employing 1,200 people. Andrew Page, a rival UK-based car parts distributor and an associate member of The Parts Alliance, a UK automotive buying and distribution group, has bought 33 branches, saving 350 jobs.

Orton continued: “Unfortunately, the business had been experiencing financial stress for a number of years, so the level of cash and further operational restructuring required to rescue a more substantial part of the business posed too much risk for most interested parties.”

Unipart Group retained a passive equity stake when it sold the automotive business, but as a condition of the sale exercised no control over the business. However, the company worked with Andrew Page on securing the purchase of the 33 branches saved.

“We are saddened by the Unipart Automotive situation and even though we sold control of this business years ago, we are concerned for the future of the employees,” said John Neill, chairman and CEO of the Unipart Group. “We have recently been able to work constructively and collaboratively with Andrew Page and are pleased that they have been able to save 33 branches and around 350 jobs,” said Neill. “They have a strong reputation for selling high quality products and brands and we look forward to making available a supply of high quality Unipart-branded products to Britain’s car owners and Unipart Car Care Centres.”

Unipart Group operates across the automotive, manufacturing, telecoms, rail, retail and technology sectors. Earlier this year it signed a five-year aftermarket logistics contract with China-based carmaker Qoros Automotive. Unipart has been expanding a specialised, automotive aftersales supply chain business in China since 2008.