Matlock Transport was almost saved from closure in the days running up to its liquidation when an offer to buy the business was received, the liquidator has told

However, the unnamed purchaser eventually withdrew its offer, leaving the haulier with no option but to cease trading with the loss of 27 jobs.

Liquidator Chris Brown at Hart Shaw was appointed to the business on 11 September after it had struggled for some time with rising costs, including fuel and wages needed to retain experienced drivers.

Brown said Matlock Transport was unable to pass on these costs, which hit profitability and left insufficient funds for investment in trucks and trailers.

“Then in March, the company was hit by the Covid-19 crisis when one of its drivers tested positive for the virus,” Brown said. “As the driver had mixed with office staff, all the office staff were sent home to self-isolate and work from home where possible.

“Several weeks later the volume of work reduced considerably, almost to a standstill, and the decision was taken to suspend trading and furlough all staff and drivers until the crisis passed.

“However, as time went on it became apparent that the longer the furlough process continued, the tougher it would be, without a massive injection of cash, to restart the business.”

At the start of July, Hart Shaw was approached for advice and the decision was taken to market the company and its business for sale.

Brown said: “This generated interest and an offer was received to purchase the company, which would have enabled the business to continue trading and so save all 27 employees' jobs.

“However, although the offer was pursued, the prospective purchaser eventually withdrew their offer leaving the company, which had completed its consultations with its employees and union representatives, with no option but to cease trading and declare its workforce redundant.”

Brown added: “Now the company is in liquidation, the redundancy payments office will pay the employees their redundancy, pay in lieu of notice and holiday pay entitlements and the company’s other creditors can expect to receive a substantial return of the money owed to them as the company’s assets are significant.”

Matlock Transport had been trading for 74 years and third generation cousins Julian and Richard Lowe were most recently at the helm.

It held a licence for 46 HGVs and 42 trailers operating out of two depots in Derbyshire.