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NARS directors resign after GPG buyout goes through

Chairman Richard Allan, chief executive Adrian Dunleavy and finance director David Hogg have resigned from Nationwide Accident Repair Services following its takeover by Guinness Peat Group and JO Hambro.

Non-executive directors John Matthews and Martin Robinson have also left the group and are replaced by GPG UK executive director Blake Nixon and Christopher Mills of JO Hambro. Trevor Beyer becomes non-executive chairman.

The board shake-up was prompted after the two venture capitalists succeeded in taking control of the business, which has 65 bodyshops. They bid 90p per share which attracted sufficient shareholders for them to take a 58 per cent stake. Dunleavy and Hogg exercised a clause in their contracts that allowed them to leave the business should it be acquired - their decision is believed to have surprised GPG and JO, despite the acrimonious circumstances surrounding the takeover.

Both have agreed to stay on for a short period to oversee the smooth running of the company while the new owners carry out a strategic review. Dunleavy leaves at the end of the month, while Hogg is likely to stay until mid summer.

“I had a clear and passionate view of how the business should be run and any conflict now would not be good for its future,” says Dunleavy, who hopes to remain in the automotive industry. “There is a strong commitment to the core business, which I don't believe will be affected that much by the review.”

Analysts expect GPG and JO to sell offload poor performing outlets and possibly sell the four outlets within the M25 at a premium price. They have vowed to keep much of the core accident repair business together, but might consider taking the publicly-listed company private should enough shareholders sell up.

A question mark remains over the future of the PDS parts distribution service, however, which was found guilty of financial irregularities ealier this year.

“They got the business cheaply and will now be able to extract value from it,” says Dunleavy. “My job now is to ensure the transition is smooth and that customers, suppliers and staff aren't affected.”

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