Kwik-Fit 'sold to Japanese firm'

A Japanese trading house has reportedly purchased tyre retailer Kwik-Fit for £637 million.

Private equity firm PAI Partners has sold Kwik-Fit to Itochu Corporation, according to the City AM newspaper. The Tokyo-based company is also the owner of Stapleton Tyre Services.

Recently, Belgium's Ageas acquired the auto repair chain's £215 million insurance arm. PAI, Kwik-Fit's European owner, has not yet commented on the latest agreement.

Kwik-Fit, which provides employment to 4,602 people across 673 branches in the UK, accounts for 20% of the country's tyre market.

In its interim statement for the six months to June, the firm reported sales of £485.5 million with operating profit of £41.4 million. However, it also showed net bank debt of £652.8 million.

Itochu's Japanese rival, Marubeni, which distributes Yokohama tyres in Europe and has a network of 24 car showrooms in Britain, was previously reported to be interested in Kwik-Fit.

Itochu was founded in 1858 and employs more than 4,000 staff. It deals with a wide range of products including textiles, machinery, IT, aerospace, energy, food and finance.

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