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Seward (Wessex) makes closures as it continues search for buyer

Administrators for Seward (Wessex) has decided to close a parts distribution and auto centre at its Grange Road, Christchurch with the loss of 26 jobs.

Twelve people will be redeployed and administrators Smith & Williamson stressed that the dealership at 20 Bailey Drive, Christchurch, three miles away, is not affected.

As revealed last week, both Vauxhall Motors and Chevrolet UK have agreed to allow vehicle sales and servicing to continue while buyers for one or more sections of the business are identified.

Seward (Wessex) will therefore continue to sell both new Vauxhall and Chevrolet cars and parts, to buy and sell used cars and perform workshop services. As with sales of vehicles by any other Vauxhall or Chevrolet dealer, the manufacturer will honour valid manufacturer warranties in the usual way.

The closure of the Grange Road site follows that of the Seward (Wessex) dealership in Blandford Forum last week.

Greg Palfrey, the joint administrator from the South Coast office of accountancy group Smith & Williamson, said: “We had no choice because the Grange Road site in Christchurch was not economically viable.

“Even so, this was a very difficult decision because we are acutely aware of the impact the decision will have on 26 people and we will be providing them with as much support and advice as possible. Fortunately we will be able to safeguard a further 12 jobs through redeployment.”

He added: “I would like to pay tribute to the professionalism of the staff in what is clearly a difficult situation, and I would also like to thank customers for their patience and understanding.”

The Grange Road site is used for the storage of spare parts and vehicles. Customers who have been using the service and MoT facilities there will be redirected to Seward (Wessex) Ltd’s operational dealerships at 20 Bailey Drive, Christchurch, and 400 Poole Road, Branksome, Poole.

Palfrey, who heads up the restructuring and recovery services arm of Smith & Williamson in the regions, stressed that the dealership at 20 Bailey Drive, Christchurch, is running as normal and should not be confused in any way with the Grange Road site.

The Grange Road site, for which the freehold is privately owned, will be wound down over the next few weeks, he added.

Stephen Adshead and colleague Palfrey were appointed joint administrators of Seward (Wessex) on February 21 to manage the company’s affairs, business and property.

Customers who have acquired vehicles through the UK-wide Motability scheme, using their Government-funded mobility allowances, are not affected by the administration of Seward (Wessex), said Palfrey.

Seward's Bournemouth business was General Motors' first brand centre in Europe, opening in 2004 following £4.5m investment as a two-storey flagship for the Vauxhall, Saab and Chevrolet brands.

Seward Accident Repair Centres, a separate company, is not in administration, nor is Seward Renault and Suzuki in Portsmouth.

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