VDL offer saves Van Hool

VDL’s binding offer for the coach business of Van Hool – in particular the North Macedonia factory which has continued to produce vehicles – has been accepted by the Belgian receiver.

VDL Groep/Van Hool has confirmed that the aim is for a rapid restart of coach production and the UK dealership based at Wellingborough has reassured UK customers that they have continued working and are available, as normal, to deal with sales inquiries and service: “Our team here in Wellingborough has continued to work through this period,” said Robert Whites, Sales. “I’d like to reassure customers that we are here for any sales or aftersales service they require.

Jeroen Pinoy, one of the curators [administrators], said: “The interest from the various parties was very genuine and demonstrated a commendable appreciation for the bankrupt company Van Hool and its employees. Upon comparing the totality of the various components of the recent bids and expressions of interest, it became evident that they were not significantly superior to the binding offer presented by VDL Group and GRW last week.

“There was a risk that without an immediate restart of the company, the valuable employee pool at Van Hool would be lost. Furthermore, the delivery of ordered vehicles (including coaches, buses, and industrial vehicles) would be further delayed, inevitably resulting in lost revenues. This would effectively dry up both production and distribution channels, causing irreparable damage. In consultation with the relevant stakeholders, we are convinced that the acquisition of the bankrupt Van Hool by VDL Group and GRW is the best solution for employment and enables a sustainable restart.”

The insolvency of Van Hool came about as a result of disagreement between the major Van Hool shareholders as the business tried to recover from the cost of the pandemic. Despite appointing senior executive Marc Zwaaneveld as co-CEO alongside Filip Van Hool to restructure the business, the factory in Koningshooikt near Antwerp was a likely target for redundancies. “On March 25, the company announced that a familial inheritance dispute among shareholders and the Van Hool family remained unresolved, prompting immediate efforts towards an alternative exploration of scenarios.,” said the adminstrators.

The workforce has been laid off but there is no word yet how UK coaches now at the factory will be completed and released to customers.

As expected GRW group, a partner company of Schmitz Cargobull, will take over Van Hool’s profitable trailer division. In the VDL offer, there was a proposal to rehire a proportion of the Belgian workforce at Koningshooikt.

  • VDL Groep is an international industrial family business with its head office in Brainport Eindhoven. Founded in 1953, now 71 years ago, the company has been run by the third generation of the Van der Leegte family since 2017. The VDL Groep employs some 15,000 employees and operates in 19 countries. The group encompasses more than 100 closely cooperating operating companies

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