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Administrators for container haulier Portman Logistics said 60 jobs had been saved after the Bury-St-Edmunds firm was sold in a pre-pack deal to part of the Challenge TRG Group.

Portman, which operated out of three depots in the East of England traffic area and two in the North East, entered administration on 28 July after increased fuel costs, wage inflation, spiralling interest rates and long delays at Chinese shipping ports all took their toll.

According to FRP Advisory Trading, the company was acquired in 2022 by CDK Group Services and it experienced an initial period of successful trading following this transaction, with revenues rising to £7.6m during 2022 and EBITDA of £1.2m.

It said the deal was funded by Praetura Commercial Finance by way of a cash flow loan.

However, EBITDA fell to a loss of £27,000 by April 2023 and despite a time to pay arrangement being set up with HMRC, Portman Logistics’ financial situation worsened.

In a report to creditors, the administrator said it marketed the business for sale and an agreement was reached with Firststep Recruitment Solutions, a division of Challenge TRG, to buy the business for £170,000.

“The purchaser demonstrated a willingness to complete the transaction quickly, which was imperative given the increasing pressure from the company’s creditors and risk of losing key staff,” said FRP.

“It should be noted that a director of Firststep also holds directorships within the Praetura Group. As such, this transaction was deemed a sale to a connected party.”

FRP added that the sale included the purchaser being granted licences to occupy Portman’s premises in both Norwich and Bury-St-Edmunds.