Car dealer Dixon's future in balance

THE future of one of the region's biggest car dealerships is hanging in the balance after administrators were called in to Dixon Motor Holdings.

Administrators BDO Stoy Hayward assumed control of the company at 12.15pm yesterday and immediately informed staff.

The firm, which has 46 franchises across 29 locations in Yorkshire, north Lincolnshire, Nottingham and Lancashire, with a head office in Doncaster, employs 1,400 people.

The dealerships will continue to operate while the administrators examine the books to determine whether the business can be saved.

Graham Newton, business restructuring partner at BDO Stoy Hayward, said: "Over recent years the motor vehicle sector has become increasingly competitive and margins have tightened.

"This has had a knock-on effect on firms such as Dixon's who have experienced falling volumes, cost inflation and price deflation.

"We plan to carry out an immediate business review and are currently in discuss-ions with car manufacturers to work to secure the future of the individual dealerships."

A spokeswoman for BDO Stoy Hayward could not say whether deals in which customers had paid deposits on cars would be honoured and advised anyone with concerns to call a customer helpline, 08451 28 50 50, for further details.

She said: "We are having conversations with manufacturers to find out what steps can be taken to secure the dealership going forward. It's very early days."

Dixon's franchises include Citroen, Ford, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall. It sells and leases new and used cars and supplies more than 10,000 vehicles each year to 50 fleet customers.

The firm was one of the UK's biggest and most successful independent motor retailers, with an 800m turnover in April 2002 when the Lombard subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland bought it from Hull-based businessman and former chief executive Paul Dixon, who ran it with his son, Simon.