A rate cut on a major contract with Debenhams, combined with the owner’s long-term absence due to serious illness, helped tip haulier PMP-Forward into administration, according to Portland Business Recovery.

Fareham and Felixstowe-based PMP-Forward, which transported goods for Debenhams, called in administrators Portland Business Recovery in August this year after suffering cashflow difficulties.

The company’s problems coincided with MD and founder Stephen Ward suffering a serious illness in October 2017, from which he has since recovered, and Debenhams' decision to cut its rates.

Portland associate director Stewart Goldsmith told MT: “The company was quite dependent on its Debenhams contract so the rate cut did not help the situation and Stephen Ward had been out of the business for nine months.

"He was a gentleman who knew everything about the industry, about the company and the company rates and he had run a tight ship and, although he had a management team in place, they couldn’t make it work.”

Goldsmith added that PMP-Forward also suffered from having to compete with companies that did not have the same overheads. “The firm maintained its fleet brilliantly and was competing with firms that did not maintain their fleets to the same standard and so it was difficult to make it work on the rates being paid,” he added.

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In a report published last week on the administration, Goldsmith said PMP-Forward’s assets, estimated at more than £1.9m, ensured all creditors were paid off with interest, with all trucks and trailers sold and a buyer found for the property. Shareholders were left with a surplus of over £824,000.

“Due to the size and network of PMP-Forward, this was not a straightforward case. The assets within the company consisted of a large book debt ledger, a fleet of more than 40 trucks and over 100 trailers and business premises.

“Our strategy was to protect and realise the value in these assets which will result in creditors of the company being paid in full. I am pleased that by working closely with the company’s directors, accountants and bankers we achieved the best possible outcome overall,” he added.