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Armoured vehicle maker bought out of administration

By Kristy Dorsey

Scottish armoured vehicle manufacturer Penman has been bought of administration for a second time by Hull-based commercial vehicle builder Martin Williams.

Based on a 15-acre site on the outskirts of Dumfries, Penman’s latest collapse came in January, when the 161-year-old business succumbed to renewed cash pressures that made it “unsustainable”. A total of 44 staff were immediately made redundant by administrators KPMG, with the 16 who were retained now transferring to Martin Williams (Hull).

This is the second time that Penman has been bought out of administration in three years, having previously been rescued by Martin Williams in November 2016. At that time, director Nick Williams said the deal would “take Martin Williams into new sectors whilst still remaining within the commercial vehicle body building industry”.

Joint administrator Blair Nimmo confirmed that the group of latest buyers “includes personnel who were involved in the previous business”.

The deal does not include the intellectual property in Penman’s armoured vehicle systems, for which Mr Nimmo and fellow joint administrator James Lumb continue to seek a buyer. It is not immediately clear what plans Martin Williams has for the Penman site going forward.

“The Penman business has a rich heritage in Dumfries and its team of employees are renowned for their knowledge and innovation in the field,” Mr Nimmo said. “Despite the company’s best efforts, cashflow challenges meant the business in its previous form could no longer find long-term sustainable solutions, leaving it no other choice but administration.

“Today’s announcement secures the future of 16 highly-skilled roles in Dumfries. The buyer has previously invested in and understands the strength and growth potential of the Penman business.

“Our focus now as administrators will be on securing the sale of Penman MW Limited’s armoured vehicle intellectual property.”

Prior to going into administration in 2016, Penman employed about 140 people at its Heathhall site.

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