Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Toyota tender chosen

The sale of Benalla and Mansfield Toyota could be finalise this week.

MONIQUE FREER January 15, 2014 4:20am

Toyota tender chosen: The sale of Benalla and Mansfield Toyota could be finalise this week.

The new owner of Benalla and Mansfield Toyota is likely to be known as early as this week.

Hedge and Associates Pty Ltd manager Des Stirling said a tender had been selected and the sale was being finalised.

‘‘We had multiple people tender for the business and we have selected the highest tender, and it’s now a case of those parties meeting the franchise law’s conditions,’’ Mr Stirling said.

However, former dealer principal Travis Mullavey said his intention was to regain the Benalla and Mansfield dealerships.

Benalla and Mansfield Toyota went into receivership on November 18, and Peter Hedge from Tanvis Investments Pty Ltd was appointed as receiver and manager.

Colleague Mr Stirling said the Christmas break had slowed the sale of the business, although they were nearing an announcement.

‘‘It’s really been a shame that it’s been Christmas and we really lost two weeks in the process, because everyone goes on holidays,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re still waiting for the conditions precedent on the contract to be met before we can make an announcement, and we hope that will be within the next week.’’

Mr Stirling said the business would retain all its current staff, and would remain a Toyota franchise.

‘‘The only way they can continue the business is as a Toyota franchise with locations both in Mansfield and Benalla,’’ Mr Stirling said.

‘‘Under the contract all staff will be employed under their current terms and conditions.

‘‘The staff have all been very loyal to the business and continue to work very well here, and in fact the Customer Satisfaction Index for November and December was at Toyota’s highest goal index.’’

Up to 20 staff are employed at Benalla and Mansfield Toyota dealerships.

Despite the impending sale, former dealer principal Mr Mullavey said he still retained hope of getting back to the helm of the local business.

‘‘We’re in the process of putting together a proposal to get the dealership back, which has been our intention for quite a while now,’’ Mr Mullavey said.

‘‘We want to get back into a position where we’re able to resolve any debts that were owing as at 18 November. That’s been our intention all the way through, to correct our situation.

‘‘We feel the best result for the community of Benalla is for the receiver to be removed and for us to be reinstated as the local trader dealer.’’

Mr Mullavey said if the sale of the business proceeded he would not be able to regain the local Toyota dealership, however he hoped his family would remain in Benalla.

‘‘If the dealership is gone I’m not in a position to get it back, but we believe we’ve put an offer forward which is the best possible scenario to satisfy the receiver’s client and to satisfy other trade creditors we had outstanding on November 18,’’ he said.

‘‘We would love to stay in Benalla, we love the place. Whether that’s feasible for us or not, we won’t know that until there’s a final outcome.’’

Mr Mullavey purchased the two Toyota dealerships in 2010, relocating from Warrnambool.

The businesses sponsored several local sporting clubs and community groups in both towns.

The business was the naming rights sponsor for the Benalla Toyota Benalla Gold Cup, and was a major sponsor at Benalla Saints and Benalla All Blacks football netball clubs.

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