The Alfreton, Derbyshire business was reported to be cash generative in December 2020, with a turnover of more than £167m. However, EVCL Chill struggled with a loss of a number of key customers and acute driver shortages during 2021, which created significant liquidity challenges.
Sale options were explored, but generated limited interest, leading management to make the decision to enter administration.
About 658 roles and a number of services have been transferred to key customers under their contractual arrangements in an effort to provide continuity for parts of the business. Employees will be notified this week on the roles that will not be transferred.
Helen Wheeler-Jones, Eddie Williams and Matthew Hammond of PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) have been appointed as joint administrators. The administration does not affect the wider EV Cargo Group, which continues to trade as before.
Commenting on EVCL, Williams said: “This has been a very difficult situation and involved intense discussions with key stakeholders on an accelerated basis to get to this position.
“As businesses move from survival mode to recovery, the financial climate is still very volatile. We will continue to fully support all affected staff members during this difficult time.”
Workers union Unite said the collapse of EVCL demonstrated a flawed logistics and haulage model, a direct result of its parent company seeking to maximise short term returns at the expense of the investment needed to secure its long-term future.
Unite national officer Matt Draper called into question how a logistics firm could have failed at a time when demand for lorry drivers was at an all-time high.
“There is something fundamentally wrong in a system which allows the wealthy owners of a company to avoid paying for its collapse while the taxpayer has to pick up the pieces,” said Draper.
“EV Cargo workers have lost their jobs without warning, through no fault of their own, and Unite will be assisting its members in every way possible in coping at this difficult time.”
UK employee base
EVCL Chill employs 1,092 full-time members of staff operating from warehouses and depots across the UK, including: Daventry; Alfreton; Rochdale; Bristol; and Penrith.
The business operates 374 trucks and 432 trailers across its transport network, alongside more than 20,000 pallets of warehousing capacity, servicing blue chip food retailers and manufacturers nationwide.
Wheeler-Jones added: “We will also continue to liaise closely with customers on the key IT and transport requirements needed for them to fulfil orders, alongside other priority stakeholders including HMRC.”
Meanwhile, last month, family-owned ethnic condiments manufacturer Simtom Food Products Limited entered administration citing the impact of the pandemic and labour shortages, after making most of its 60-strong permanent workforce redundant.