Sarah Bell, a partner in Begbies Traynor, says: “When we have completed our review of the business’s affairs, we will pursue any claims. We understand that substantial amounts are owed and Richard Cort is extremely upset about what has happened to his business.
“He did everything possible to save as many jobs as possible when his business ran into difficulties. It is always a great shame when a business fails, especially when it has been supported by the person running it.
“But, after lengthy discussions, it was agreed that the company was not financially viable and the solution was to place it in administration.”
Begbies Traynor is seeking to sell Richard Cort Motor Group and save 44 jobs at the two remaining sites in Bury and Rossendale, Lancashire. Neither is trading but Bell says there has been interest in the Bury site – which combines a Fiat outlet and a used car operation – because of its location on the main road to Manchester.
There seems little hope of saving the Rossendale site, even though it is the more modern, because ChryslerJeep terminated its contract in March and it is about to lose Kia’s.
Cort was chairman of the MG Rover Dealer Council and worked long hours on behalf of dealer members when the manufacturer collapsed in April of last year. He is not blaming those responsibilities on the downfall of his business but many believe it must have been a contributory factor.
His business held the MG Rover franchise at Oldham, which was refranchised last year with Hyundai and sold by Cort in March in a bid to save his business. He also sold a ChryslerJeep site in Bury to reduce mounting debts.
Cort says: “On a personal level, my reputation is intact because I have done nothing illegal. I realise this cannot be said at the moment about my business reputation, but I will return to the motor trade.
“I found it increasingly difficult to get some manufacturers to pay me money they owned, and one in particular, which I am not prepared to name. I have held the franchises of a number of manufacturers over the past few years.
“I’m not blaming what has happened on my time as chairman of the MG Rover Dealer Council. The most difficult time for MG Rover dealers was not a year ago, but now. They are selling the last of the cars released by Capital Bank, and they’re not getting the service work that they did.”