Mounting pressure on Britain's automotive component suppliers claimed another victim as an administrator took over injection molder Excel Group.
Within a week of taking control of the Didcot, England, company, the administrator, PricewaterhouseCoopers, laid off 70 of the company's 500 workers.
The company was losing as much as 150,000 ($222,000) per week before the Dec. 6 takeover. The administrator plans to sell Excel's subsidiaries — either separately or together — as a going concern.
"We are working closely with management, customers and suppliers in order to stabilize the position," said PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and joint administrator Robert Hunt.
An advertisement in the Financial Times of London drew 50 inquiries, mostly from the United Kingdom, about acquiring part or all of the molding business, according to Robert Rees, the other joint administrator.
"There was a high degree of interest shown in Excel. Its customers and suppliers are continuing to support the group, and we would hope to bring this to a head [with a sale] swiftly," Rees said.
Excel grew rapidly in recent years and expanded its molding capacity to gear up for major business growth, he said. But pricing pressure from customers, the loss of several contracts and a failure to find a partner forced the company into the hands of administrators, Rees said.
Excel's four companies include:
Excel Timbalex Ltd., with three injection molding and printing/lacquering plants in Didcot and nearby Bicester.
Excel Mouldings Ltd., with a Bicester injection molding facility.
Excel Tools Ltd., a Didcot-based mold-making business.
Excel Polymer Components Ltd., a Paignton, England, injection molder.
The company has a total of about 54 presses, mostly Demag and Ergotech models. Excel Group reported 2000 sales of about 27 million ($40 million), according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Excel's customers include Ford Motor Co.'s Jaguar unit, General Motors Corp., Magna International Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc., Rees said.