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Contract hire and rental firm Axis Fleet Management has entered administration and ceased trading.

Insolvency experts at FRP Advisory were appointed to the company, with a head office in Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire on 10 May.

In a statement from the administrators it said “challenging trading conditions resulted in cash flow difficulties and despite efforts to find a buyer for the business, a sale could not be achieved.

“This left the directors no option but to place the business into administration. At this point, the business ceased trading with immediate effect and 20 employees were made redundant.

“The remaining 10 employees are now assisting with the orderly wind down of the business”.

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The statement added: “The joint administrators are working with the redundancy payments service to provide support for affected employees at this difficult time.

“The team is also working closely with the company’s funders and customers in dealing with the hire fleets and are seeking to realise the assets of the business to secure the best outcome for creditors.”

Calls to the business went unanswered but a former employee confirmed to that it had retained a skeleton staff, who were aiding the administrator.

Axis Fleet Management appeared to have been struggling for a while; its last set of accounts for the year ending 31 March 2018 revealed a £4.3m pre-tax loss on a £25.2m turnover.

In its business review, the company said it had been “a very challenging year” and added: “The key drivers of the loss were low asset utilisation during the first half year and high operational costs as a result of the increasing average age of the fleet.”

Des Evans, honorary professor at Aston Business School and a former Axis Fleet Management non-executive director, told “The rental market is now suffering from very high levels of competition. There are very low rates and the residual values market and the used vehicle market in combination has proven to be very high risk in terms of end of contract values of equipment.

“Axis are just a victim of that market sector: high competition, low margins, high risk and collapsed residual values.”