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Nationwide 'committed' to long term repair role

Nationwide Accident Repair Services is determined to retain the bulk of its bodyshop network, despite closing its Harrow operation and disposing of its Bristol site to a management buy-out.

Chief executive Michael Wilmshurst, appointed in May by venture capitalist Guinness Peat Group following its purchase of the NARS business in a joint venture with JO Hambro, says the decision was taken because the two bodyshops were not “consistently profitable”.

He adds: “We have taken the decision to withdraw from our Bristol and Harrow sites. A staff buyout at Bristol, headed by the existing management team, has the support of Nationwide and, subject to contract, will conclude at the end of the month. But we are committed to a long term role in the accident repair market and possess the financial resources and team to achieve this.”

The Harrow business was suffering similar problems faced by all repairers in the M25 region. High overheads, spiralling staff costs and skills shortages, combined with the burden of collection and delivery in a highly congested area are not sufficiently compensated by the insurance labour rate.

Prior to the acquisition, Nationwide had already offloaded two outlets in London and was considering the future of the others. Sources claim a third bodyshop in the south is also set to close.

Meanwhile, Halls Body Repair Centre in Sheffield has appointed receivers Poppleton & Appleby.

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