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U.K.'s Aspray Transport shutting doors after defaulting on £1.9 million debt (Photo: Aspray)

Aspray Transport, a U.K.-based trucking company, is shutting down on August 16 after its measures to revive its business despite mounting debts failed to work. The company, which was acquired by Bushell Investment Group in March 2019, had been placed into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) as it defaulted on its loans. 

The Bushell Investment Group bought the Aspray Group, consisting of Aspray24, Aspray Logistics and Aspray International. Aspray Transport, which is also known as Aspray24, is the next-day delivery arm of the company, operating across 13 locations in the U.K., and employed more than 600 people at its peak. Its fortunes dipped after its acquisition, as the new management decided to apply for a CVA, leading to the Aspray Group’s owner Pat Laight to leave the business because he did not see eye to eye with Bushell’s strategies for Aspray Transport. Within the Aspray Group, only Aspray24 will be affected, with the jobs at Aspray Logistics and Aspray International safe from the chaos. 

Bushell has maintained that this was a part of a restructuring process, and the CVA was essential to stabilize the business. “There are a number of legacy issues that we still need to address, and we propose to address these via a CVA. It is important to note that it remains business as usual at Aspray, and that customers and trade suppliers will be unaffected by this process,” said a spokeswoman for the transport business at Bushell. 

Bushell has claimed that 99 percent of Aspray24’s trade suppliers supported the decision, reiterating the effectiveness of the CVA measure. But things took a turn when it was revealed that the company was in debt to a few creditors for £1.9 million, which is equivalent to US$2.3 million. This situation is expected to cost 65 jobs. Aspray had already announced redundancy in jobs last year, which meant that 173 workers were fired.

“Unfortunately, Aspray Transport has been experiencing trading difficulties for some time, due to a number of factors including rising fuel prices, adverse market conditions and the uncertainty linked to Brexit,” said Bushell in a statement. “To combat these issues, we initiated a CVA process, which was approved by the company’s creditors in April. However, due to the continued market decline it has become apparent that this will be insufficient in addressing the company’s poor trading performance.”

Bushell explained that though it did fight to get more investment for the beleaguered company, the effort was in vain. Aspray Transport currently has 449 employees spread across the U.K., with the staff bracing for termination notices as the company was “not sustainable anymore.” Though the company has not come out with the exact number of employees that will have their jobs declared redundant, there is palpable fear running within the organization. 

“We understand that this will be of concern to Aspray Transport employees and customers. We have informed them about the situation and will continue to keep them updated and supported on developments,” said Bushell. 

The company has its headquarters and central hub at Willenhall and has group depots in Bristol, Cardiff, Eastleigh, Featherstone, Greenford, Larkhall, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Plymouth, Rainham, Thetford and Washington.