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Company takeover leaves coachbuilding staff without jobs

Staff at a Banbury horsebox firm have been made redundant after what they deem to be a hostile takeover.

All 27 employees of Olympic Coachbuilders learned on 27 May that Inchmere Design Group, who bought Olympic in March, had put them into voluntary liquidation.

“We are still reeling from the shock,” said sales director Simon Harrison. “We were told the merger would ensure the future of the company. Orders were still coming in, but cashflow was getting tighter.”

The merger was suggested by the firm’s accountant. In return for a cash injection Inchmere took total control of the business.

Inchmere specialises in exhibition equipment and the company’s Mark Goodall, claimed both factories would work as normal. Inchmere declined to speak to H&H.

Olympic was formed in 1991 by staff after Lambourn Coachbuilders folded.

“We want to regroup however we can — it’s the only industry we know,” said Mr Harrison.

And Lambourn Racehorse Transport boss Merrick Francis has offered space on his yard.

“They are excellent, my whole fleet of 14 vehicles was built by them,” said Mr Francis.

Olympic builds around 50 luxury horseboxes each year and Mr Harrison said a number were currently part-built.

As H&H went to press, no insolvency practitioner had been instructed to manage the liquidation.

John Morecroft of the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association said his group had heard of a number of sole trader horsebox companies going bankrupt and customers should check the solvency of a coachbuilder before making an order or paying a deposit.

“It is very sad to see Olympic being wound up, especially in these circumstances,” he said.

This story was first published in this week’s Horse & Hound (10 June, 2010)

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