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AUTOCARE Services, one of Australia’s biggest vehicle logistics companies, has returned to its parent company LINX Cargo Care after spending five months in voluntary administration and completing a deed of arrangement with creditors.

Autocare’s general manager Simon Abela said in a statement that the business will now work “with a new operating model, new leadership team, property footprint and structure that places the business on sustainable footing into the future”.

“This has been an incredibly challenging period for our people, partners and customers but pleasingly, with their support, we’ve been able to emerge from the voluntary administration process with a structure and operating model that we are confident will bring stability and ensure our viability moving forward,” he said.

“As we transition out of voluntary administration as a stronger and leaner entity, Autocare Services is well placed to deliver for our customers, support our suppliers, and provide ongoing employment and tenure for our people.”

Autocare went into voluntary administration after struggling with a plunge in business during weakened car deliveries caused by the global impact of the pandemic.

Falling car sales, reduced vehicle movements, sluggish shipping traffic and increased operating costs combined to hit the business.

LINX CEO Anthony Jones said: “I’m confident the revised operating model breathes new life into Autocare Services and enables the business to regain their momentum in an increasingly competitive market that continues to see extensive change.”

Administrators from FTI Consulting said at the time they were called in to Autocare that the plan was to “restructure” to “maximise the chances” of coming out of administration “in a sustainable position”.

Simon Abela

FTI administrators Christopher Hill, Joseph Hansell and Ross Blakeley said in a statement in February that it would be a case of “business as usual” through the administration process with the business trading through the period without affecting its customers.

“As administrators, we will act independently at all times, and we will work with Autocare Services management and staff in continuing to operate the business,” they said.

Mr Jones, when announcing the voluntary administration in February, said: “Voluntary administration can provide Autocare Services with a pathway for the tough, but necessary, change it needs for the evolution of its business model to keep delivering services valued by customers today, and into the future, to the Australian automotive industry.”

The Australian newspaper earlier this year reported that the company’s auditors Deloitte raised concerns about the financial stability of the company in 2020 as revenue declined 10 per cent to $215.7 million in the year to the end of December 2019. Losses grew from $8.1m in 2018 to $46.76 million in 2019.

Autocare is Australia’s biggest provider of on-wharf and off-wharf pre-delivery inspection facilities and prior to COVID, processed more than 500,000 vehicles a year.

On its company website, it said it handles more than one-million vehicle movements a year and has storage capacity around Australia for in excess of 80,000 vehicles. It has nine depots in Australia and about 600 employees working at 20 sites in Australia.

Its clients include Toyota and Hyundai. It also operates a customisation assembly line for Toyota HilLux in Port Melbourne.

The 60-year-old Autocare Services is majority owned by LINX Cargo Care Group with a smaller 20 per cent shareholder. LINX is owned by Canadian-based Brookfield Asset Management.

By Neil Dowling

Kelley Blue Book
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