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Kwik-Fit founder backs new firm

Kwik-Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer has returned to the UK aftermarket by backing a new fast-fit venture close to his home in Scotland.

Tyres 'n' Wheels Autocare will go head to head for local business with the company Farmer sold to Ford in 1999 for £1bn. He stepped down as chairman and chief executive of Kwik-Fit in November last year, a month before CVC Capital Partners acquired the network from Ford for a knock-down £330m. The industry rumour mill has been on overtime since his departure.

Tyres 'n' Wheels Autocare branches have been launched in Edinburgh and Bathgate and there are plans to open a total of six in the region. Speaking to AM, Farmer confirms he is providing financial backing as well as playing an active role in the venture's operations by offering advice.

AM was inundated with enquiries after a story outlining Farmer's plans to return to the automotive industry by supporting start-up businesses was published following his appearance as guest speaker at the AM100 dinner in June. Tyres 'n' Wheels Autocare could be just one of a handful of businesses that benefits from his backing.

Since Farmer left, Kwik-Fit has undergone structural and strategic revisions. Sources say that senior managers are optimistic about returning strong profits next year.

Tim Parker, former chief executive at shoe retailer Clarks, was brought in to run Kwik-Fit a year ago. He has overseen major changes, including the closure of loss-making divisions and the streamlining of management.

Group headquarters have been moved from Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, to a new location in Broxborn, West Lothian, and a number of Kwik-Fit service centres have been closed.

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