There was a steady stream of activity at the closed Carcraft site in Sheffield today as car companies and finance houses claimed their property - and customers arrived with questions.
Firms including Nissan, Lookers and Bristol Street motors sent staff and hired car transporters to remove vehicles from the premises on Sheffield Business Park in Tinsley.
Customers who had bought vehicles turned up to ask whether their MOT, servicing and breakdown cover - called Drive Happy - was still valid.
Security guards on the gate gave out contact details for administrators Grant Thornton. It is understood fewer than five staff were still on the premises after the company went bust yesterday. Some 550 workers at 10 depots across the country were told at 10.30am they were out of a job.
Signs at Carcraft Sheffield boasted it always had at least 1,500 vehicles on the premises.
Customer Dave Walker, of Tinsley, said he bought a Vauxhall Zafira two weeks ago and had returned to find out whether his Drive Happy Plan was still valid.
He said: “They gave fantastic service, that lad Nadir worked his socks off for us and even gave us a free umbrella. I don’t think staff knew at all, I think the company kept it quiet. I think the bank has waited for a particular dip and then sent in the boys.
“After I decided to buy, they came back with offers from four different finance companies. So Carcraft got the money off the finance company and I pay them.”
But many of the vehicles were owned by other firms.
A man who arrived in a convoy of cars said he worked for Bristol Street Motors and they had 40 cars on the site. Another said he was with Lookers and they had 350.
Car transporters carrying up to 10 vehicles were being loaded in the compound before roaring out. Others were driven away singly.
Another customer, Leslie Hallas, of Sheffield city centre, said his car was due a service in August under the Drive Happy Plan and he had come down to find out what was going on.
Administrators Grant Thornton said drivers who had plans with Carcraft were no longer covered. But those who bought on finance provided by the firm were not affected, yet. It is unclear what will happen to those who bought a car, or paid a deposit, but have yet to pick up their vehicle.
Daniel Smith, of Grant Thornton, said: “Carcraft customers with the firm’s Drive Happy Plans - packages which cover a warranty, MOT, servicing and roadside assistance - will no longer be covered. Carcraft is not in a position to fulfil the other services listed. It is our intention to explore whether an alternative provider is prepared to offer this service to customers at competitive rates.
“But as finance plans for cars themselves are provided by a third-party, they, as yet, won’t be affected. Carcraft did not provide finance. This was provided by third-party funders and a sister company; All In One Finance Limited, which is not yet in administration.
“We are currently working to better understand the volume and nature of orders outstanding where deposits may have been paid.”
Meanwhile thousands of cars for sale on 10 lots across the country - including Sheffield - are likely to be recovered by the finance houses who own them, he added.
He said: “Many of these, and the remaining unencumbered stock, will be realised over the following weeks through auction houses.”
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