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Owner Uninterested in Kwik-Fit Bid

(Clacton, U.K./Tyres & Accessories) Tony Todd, the architect of 34 years of growth at Micheldever Tyre Services, has sold the company to its management team.

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On Feb. 6, Alan Baldwin, Phil Brookes, Ashley Croft, Mike Flood, Brian Kerswell, and Eric Noble became the new owners. A number of other companies, including Kwik-Fit, are said to have unsuccessfully approached the company.

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The deal was backed by private equity company Graphite Capital and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Financial sources report that Graphite is taking a 72% stake while the management will own the remaining shares. While details of the price-tag have not been released, estimates would have to be based on the £150 – £160 million of sales the company achieved in 2005.

As a result of buy-out, Paul Fox and Richard Sawney are joining the team as chief executive and finance director respectively. The new appointments bring more than 50 years of automotive industry experience between them. Another new appointment to the company is Michael Boxford, who has reportedly chaired other Graphite investments including Paperchase and LS Group.

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Micheldever’s new management made a point of stating categorically that, contrary to some industry rumours, the company will remain independent and will continue to be “the champion of the independent tyre retailer.” But there were other interested parties. Tyres & Accessories has learnt that the company turned down an approach from leading retailer, Kwik-Fit. Tony Todd is said to have made it clear that he was loyal to his existing staff and customers by telling Kwik-Fit representatives that Micheldever was not “for sale to Kwik-Fit at any price.”

According to the company, the new management team’s “formidable depth of experience cannot be matched anywhere within the U.K. tyre industry.” All of the senior management team have personally invested in the business and are said to be very excited about the prospects ahead of them.

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Micheldever reports that it now supplies more than 4 million tyres each year to its customers through its national network of wholesale distribution centres. New joint-owner Alan Baldwin told T&A that customers could rest assured that it was “business as usual” for the company following the announcement.

Looking ahead, the management team says it will focus on developing the existing distribution warehouses to full maturity, expanding the wholesale reach geographically and exploring opportunities to develop the other parts of the distribution network. “Micheldever strongly believes in the maxim “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” the company explained, adding that the wholesaler will “not be opening Micheldever accounts with every garage, taxi firm or paint shop that thinks they can fit a tyre!”

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The obviously pleased management team also extended its best wishes to Tony Todd who will continue to take an interest, providing his experience and support to the business. Micheldever also thanked all its customers for their “tremendous support” over the years.

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