Ford acquired a minor financial stake in Howard Basford last year, which followed its £1bn purchase of Tom Farmer's Kwik-Fit operation. The carmaker is believed to be building its aftermarket network, with more bodyshop acquisitions a possibility, as it bids to become the leading provider of automotive consumer products and services.
Howard Basford managing director Neil Kirk said the Ford cash would provide significant financial resources and “enhanced opportunities” for growth.
The Merseyside-based accident repairer has now flexed its financial muscle by acquiring the Contact Accident Repair outlets within five minutes of official receivership.
It gives Howard Basford 11 repair centres, doubling staff to 200 and spreading its coverage into the Midlands.
Contact Accident Repair was set up last year by ex-Eagle Star financial controller Brian Pursey. He had ambitious plans to develop a nationwide network of 50 bodyshops within five years.
But receivers Begbies Traynor in Southend-on-Sea said the £12m turnover network failed due to a lack of capital. Howard Basford marketing and operations officer Penny Hayden-Childs called the Contact Accident Repair business “an opportunity that arose at short notice, but one that was too good to miss”.
Industry analyst Robert Hadfield said the acquisition indicated Basford's “serious intent” to become a main competitor to national networks like Nationwide Accident Repair Centres, part of Perry Group.
It would also raise competition with Ford franchised dealer bodyshops.
The sites purchased by the Howard Basford are in Warrington, Heywood, Nottingham, Bromsgrove, Warwick and Daventry.
The former Avis Rent-A-Car site in Langley, Berks, did not form part of the purchase and has since been closed by the receivers.