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Solus poised to buy Deejay

Solus, the bodyshop group owned by Norwich Union, is understood to be in the final stages of talks to acquire Deejay Accident Repair Centres, one of the UK’s largest independent networks.

If Solus is successful, the acquisition will mean the addition of Deejay’s three bodyshops in Greater London (in Tottenham, Finchley and Wood Green) and its recently-built head office and training centre in Barnet. It would add about £6m turnover to Solus’s £38m, nine-site business.

Solus is not prepared to make a statement, according to a spokeswoman. However the company has been recruiting general managers in preparation for an expansion drive. As AM went to press, Dave Shepherd, Deejay managing director, had not responded to a number of phone calls, although it is believed he has been visiting staff in the past week to inform them about the situation.

In July last year, Shepherd sold Deejay’s bodyshop and headquarters in Broxbourne, Herts, to Rye Street Coachworks, which also has sites at Bishop’s Stortford and Cheshunt in Herts and Haverhill in Suffolk. At the time, Shepherd told AM he wanted to concentrate on his bodyshops within the M25.

Although many London bodyshops struggle because of the high rents and other operating costs, Shepherd has been successful in restructuring Deejay since 2003, when he was forced to make a fifth of staff redundant.

While a large proportion of Deejay’s business is driven by insurance companies’ direct referral programmes, each bodyshop is encouraged to raise profits by carrying out other minor repairs at retail rates.

Nevertheless, Shepherd was disappointed earlier this year when Fortis Insurance, with which Deejay had worked for more than a decade, decided not to renew its contract.

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