EV Cargo company EVCL Chill has collapsed into administration, forcing customers Asda and Sainsbury’s to overhaul their chilled logistics operations.

PwC was appointed to the firm on Saturday (25 September) and 658 staff were transferred to its key customers.

However, its collapse leaves more than 400 staff unsure about their future.

The administration does not affect the wider EV Cargo Group, which continues to trade.

EVCL Chill, which ran 374 trucks and 432 trailers, operated primarily within chilled food logistics, storing and delivering products for retail customers and suppliers to the UK food retail market.

Headquartered in Alfreton, Derbyshire, it employed 1,092 full time employees and operated from warehouses based in Daventry, Alfreton, Rochdale, Crick, Bristol and Penrith.

According to PwC, in the year to December 2020, EVCL Chill’s turnover exceeded £167m and it was cash generative; however, it began to struggle with the loss of key customers and the ongoing driver shortage.

In a statement, PwC said: “A number of sale options were explored but generated limited interest and management took the difficult decision to enter administration.

“658 roles and a number of services have been transferred to key customers under their contractual arrangements, which provides continuity for parts of EVCL Chill and those customers.

“Regretfully there are a number of roles that have not been transferred and we will update the remaining employees early next week.”

Eddie Williams, PwC joint administrator, said: “This has been a very difficult situation and involved intense discussions with key stakeholders on an accelerated basis to get to this position.

“As businesses move from survival mode to recovery, the financial climate is still very volatile.

“I am pleased that at least 658 roles will continue in a sector that is already facing many difficulties and challenges around inventory, personnel and the wider supply chain,” Williams added.

“Some vital continuity and stability has been ensured for a number of EVCL Chill’s stakeholders.”

Asda confirmed it had taken in-house a collection service provided by EVCL Chill, protecting 290 jobs.

‘Asda Collect’ operated from EVCL Chill’s Daventry operation and this has now been transferred to Lutterworth.

Asda said it was opening up vacancies at its Lutterworth site to any EVCL Chill employees who were not eligible for TUPE but who wish to join the retailer.

Wincanton operates Asda’s Rochdale depot, which will receive 122 EVCL Chill colleagues: “This important extension to our relationship with Asda will ensure food manufacturers get their products to Asda stores and customers across the UK and, importantly, ensure continued employment for colleagues in the Asda supply chain who we look forward to welcoming to Wincanton,” said Wincanton chief executive James Wroath.

Sainsbury’s said it had “continuity plans in place” to ensure its operations continued to run smoothly.

The Unite union said it represented 500 staff at EVCL Chill and it would be helping them “in every way possible”.

Matt Draper, Unite national officer, said: “EVCL Chill workers have lost their jobs without warning, through no fault of their own.

“This is a highly distressing and stressful time for all workers at EVCL Chill.”