Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland car dealer David Prentice enters administration but 65 jobs saved as business continues

By Rachel Martin

One of Northern Ireland's best known names in car dealing will continue trading, despite entering administration. David Prentice was once a big name in Northern Ireland motoring. But last week David Prentice (Cars) Ltd entered administration.

Bosses say no jobs will be lost and that it marks a "new era" for the company.

New company Prentice Portadown Limited has taken over the running of the business as trading continues as normal.

All 65 staff members have been transferred over to the new company, along with brands BMW and Mini.

David Prentice is a household name in Northern Ireland, having traded across several dealerships in the region for more than 30 years. Today, the company runs just one car dealership in Portadown.

Tom Keenan and Scott Murray of Keenan CF have been appointed as joint administrators, but would not comment.

The company was directed by David Prentice, Valerie Prentice and Joanne Houston.

It traded under the name David Prentice Portadown and David Prentice Omagh until the two divisions were merged and continued trading under David Prentice Portadown in June 2013.

Part of the Omagh site was sold in August 2014 for £425,000, but the rest of the site was still owned by the company in July.

It made pre-tax profits of £11,580, according to its last accounts for the year ending December 31, 2014.

The same year, its turnover was £32.3m.

According to its 2014 accounts, the company's inter-company debts sat at £4.8m - although this was down by £189,000 on the year before.

Motoring writer Derek Black said the firm was once one of the "big three" in the industry here.

"David Prentice used to be the main man in motors here - he ran quite a big operation.

"He was one of the main Renault dealers until that was sold to Charles Hurst around 15 years ago.

"It was decided that premium cars made more money whereas with second hand and lower end cars you've got a higher turnover and lower margins - you've got to move a lot metal to make profit - so the decision was made for them to move into BMW. The premium car market did well during the recession as wealthy customers weren't affected as badly, but in Northern Ireland there are four BMW dealers - it's a lot for such a small place."

He added: "Audi's rise in popularity has also taken up some of the high end of the market."

Belfast Telegraph