Canute Haulage Group surrendered a contract with car care products manufacturer Tetrosyl days before its controversial pre-pack administration.

Bibby Distribution has confirmed that it, along with several partners, including Walkers Transport and Nuttall Transport, took on the work as Canute teetered on the brink of collapse.

Bibby Distribution had worked with the manufacturer of T-Cut, CarPlan and Wonder Wheels products, since 2000 before Canute usurped it.

Tetrosyl is headquartered in Rochdale and manufactures its products in Chadderston, Greater Manchester, where they are then distributed to the rest of the UK and more than 100 countries worldwide.

Bibby Distribution was Tetrosyl’s first outsourced logistics partner, and initially complemented the manufacturer's in-house distribution fleet. Within two years Bibby had taken over the entire UK distribution operation, including Tetrosyl staff and vehicles. In 2008 Bibby relocated its Tetrosyl work from its own Heywood DC to its client's Greengate site in Chadderton.

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The partners signed a new five-year deal in 2010, but Canute is believed to have won the contract, understood to be worth in the region of £1.2m annually, in 2017.

A report earlier this month by Rochdale Online suggests the deal may not have commenced until this year, as it states that Canute's five-year contract was terminated after just five months of operation on the 4 May.

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The report goes on to say that 20 staff are thought to have been affected by the move.

In a statement issued to MT Bibby Distribution said: “We can confirm that Tetrosyl have terminated their contract with Canute and that Bibby Distribution is one of several 3PLs who are now providing logistics services to Tetrosyl.”

Employment questions

However, there appears to be continuing confusion in regards to who is now employing the staff that were attached to the Tetrosyl contract. Canute is understood to have claimed that its former employees now work for Bibby Distribution and the other partners that have succeeded it due to TUPE. This is refuted by the other operators.

David Haworth, HR director at Bibby Distribution, said: “Following a number of conversations and detailed written communications with Canute, whereby they maintain that a number of specified employees have transferred to Bibby Distributon’s employment under TUPE, at this stage we do not believe that TUPE applies.

“However, we are conscious of the impact that this uncertainty may be having on those affected employees who cannot choose how the legislation applies to them. The fact remains that they are not Bibby Distribution employees and so are left in limbo due to Canute taking this stance.

“Whilst we believe they remain Canute employees (and therefore should be being redeployed or made redundant by Canute), we have nonetheless been liaising with them regarding other vacancies in our network,” he said.

A spokesman for Leeds based Walkers Transport said: “Following very recent notification from Canute that they believe certain of its employees have transferred to Walkers employment under TUPE we are currently working with our legal representatives as a matter of priority to ascertain further clarity and information.

“Once our legal obligations have been established, to the extent that there are any, we will seek to fulfil them. Until then we are unable to comment further. As to the contractual relationship between Tetrosyl and Canute we are unable to comment.”

Nuttall Transport declined to comment.

Tetroysl could not be reached for comment as this article was published.

Canute Haulage Group has not replied to a request for comment.