TAXI FIRM LIFE­LINE FOR TOM WORK­ERS

Res­cue plans af­ter clo­sure of ve­hi­cle rental firm

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Front Page - Ian Bunt­ing

More than a hun­dred dev­as­tated em­ploy­ees made redundant af­ter Air­drie firm TOM Ve­hi­cle Rental ceased trad­ing have been of­fered a life­line by a lo­cal taxi firm.

Shell- shocked staff re­ceived the bomb­shell news that the 27-year-old busi­ness was clos­ing its doors dur­ing a meet­ing with bosses last week.

But kind-hearted Mon­k­lands out­fit Penny Cars has stepped in to in­vite TOM em­ploy­ees to ap­ply for pri­vate hire driver roles – with more than a quarter of the lo­cal TOM work­force al­ready tak­ing them up on their of­fer.

In a Face­book post shortly af­ter the TOM ad­min­is­tra­tion be­came pub­lic, Penny Cars stated: “It would be great to see the Air­drie busi­ness com­mu­nity come to­gether and help as much as we can.”

Penny Cars’ man­ager, Kenny Wade, told the Ad­ver­tiser: “We were very sad to hear the news about TOM, but are keen to do our bit to help the em­ploy­ees who’ve been

made redundant. We’ve had 37 ap­pli­ca­tions from TOM staff since we posted the Face­book mes­sage.

“The jobs we are of­fer­ing are self-em­ployed po­si­tions, but we will take any in­ter­ested par­ties through the full ap­pli­ca­tion process.

“We are all about sup­port­ing the Mon­k­lands com­mu­nity and hope to do all we can for the TOM staff at what must be a very dif­fi­cult and wor­ry­ing time for them.”

Air­drie & Shotts MSP Alex Neil – who called TOM’s demise a “tragedy”for the town – has also re­vealed that Pais­ley-based truck and van re­pair cen­tre McKin­non & Forbes Ltd has in­vited for­mer TOM em­ploy­ees to ap­ply for “me­chanic and panel beater posts in the firm’s body shop”.

Last week’s shock­ing news about TOM came just 15 months af­ter Equi­s­tone Part­ners Europe took a“ma­jor­ity stake”in the com­pany in a deal be­lieved to be worth tens of mil­lions of pounds.

A crushed TOM em­ployee, who wished to re­main anony­mous, told the Ad­ver­tiser: “All the staff were told at a meet­ing. It was to­tally out of the blue.

“We had heard some ru­mours, but noth­ing con­crete, and had all just de­cided that we were go­ing to get on with it.

“Now we are just all in shock. There are about 100 staff here and it’s re­ally hard on all of them.

“It’s a ma­jor loss to Air­drie; there are a lot of emo­tional peo­ple right now.”

TOM – which em­ploys more than 500 peo­ple across 10 de­pots na­tion­wide – was founded as a sin­gle site pro­vid­ing MOTs back in 1991 and hires out com­mer­cial vans, cars, trucks and trail­ers to pub­lic and pri­vate cus­tomers.

Just two years ago, the firm was named one of the 1000 fastest-grow­ing com­pa­nies in Bri­tain.

But trad­ing has now ceased and 342 em­ploy­ees have been made redundant across 11 lo­ca­tions in Scot­land and Eng­land.

A to­tal of 86 mem­bers of staff will be re­tained at the group’s head of­fice in Air­drie and across the de­pot and deal­er­ship net­work for up to four weeks to as­sist ad­min­is­tra­tors Ernst & Young with an“or­derly wind-down of the busi­ness”and re­spond to any customer queries.

The ad­min­is­tra­tors – who have taken con­trol of TOM Group Lim­ited and its Scot­tish sub­sidiary com­pa­nies TOM Ve­hi­cle Rental Lim­ited and Cale­do­nian Truck & Van Lim­ited – have suc­cess­fully man­aged to sell the busi­ness and as­sets of a third sub­sidiary, Alis­tair Flem­ing Lim­ited, which is based in Kil­marnock.

Colin Demp­ster, joint ad­min­is­tra­tor, said:“The group has in­curred op­er­a­tional dif­fi­cul­ties and as­so­ci­ated liq­uid­ity prob­lems in re­cent years that re­flect low util­i­sa­tion of their rental ve­hi­cles, as a re­sult of a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, and chang­ing customer pref­er­ences.

“De­spite the best ef­forts to save the group, it could not con­tinue to op­er­ate as a go­ing con­cern and ad­min­is­tra­tors were ap­pointed.

“It is with re­gret that 342 peo­ple have been made redundant.”

Shell-shocked TOM staff were taken by sur­prise

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