Unipart buys British Rail's parts business

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The Government last night completed the sale of one of the few remaining bits of British Rail, selling its parts business, Railpart, to the automotive parts group Unipart for an undisclosed sum.

Based in Doncaster and with a staff of 270, Railpart has a turnover of pounds 237m supplying traction and rolling-stock parts for passenger and freight trains. It made a pounds 9.3m profit in 1995.

John Neil, Unipart's chief executive, who led the company's privatisation from BL in the 1980s, pledged to expand Railpart's services into the privatised rail industry.

Railpart supplies and repairs a range of parts, from whole power units to brake pads, hoses and brushes. Its sale had been due to be completed by the end of last year but was held up by haggling over price.

The deal, financed by Royal Bank of Scotland and the Intermediate Capital Group, is Unipart's second foray into the privatised rail industry.

Earlier this year it backed the management buyout of National Railway Supplies (NRS), which services, repairs and distributes products such as signalling and telecommunications equipment. NRS also runs the BR memorabilia shop next to Euston station in London.

"Railpart will be a discrete operation able to draw on the pool of Unipart group experience and competencies to bring increasingly high levels of service to customers," Mr Neil said . He added that together with NRS, Unipart believed it could bring substantial benefits to the rail industry.

John Clayton, the former director of Unipart's Jaguar and London Taxis International business, has been appointed managing director of Railpart.

The Railpart deal virtually completes the fragmentation and sale of BR into more than 80 different businesses. Last month the Government sold the last of the 25 passenger rail franchises.