Firm ready for due diligence

Electrical repair firm Empire, which went into administration last week, is set to fall into the hands of The Replacement Service, its former rival.

James Hislop, chief executive of Replacement, wants to buy the Empire insurance supply arm, which fixes up to 50,000 damaged properties a year.

He said Replacement was ready for due diligence, but the process could take up to six weeks to complete.

“They are well aware that we have lodged our interest,” he said. “They do not have any other interested parties on the insurance side of the business.”

Empire, which generated most of its £150m turnover from its retail business, left insurers in the lurch last week when it went bust.

About 600 policyholders – with households names AXA, Royal Bank of Scotland Insurance and Allianz – had unsettled claims with the Leeds-based company.

“It has been a shock to insurers,” Hislop said. “One of the biggest problems is identifying the stuff that is out there before it becomes complaints.”

He said Replacement had already helped dozens of insurers, settling claims within seven days.

The administrator KPMG has blamed Empire’s collapse on the economic downturn and the withdrawal of cover by trade credit insurers.

Hislop said his company had been contacted by brokers, loss adjusters and insurers including Aon, Cunningham Lindsey and Legal and General.

“A lot of the insurers are feeling bruised and feeling like they do not want to talk to suppliers ever again,” he said.