The entrepreneur behind a Derby high-tech precision engineering firm which recently ceased trading says his project to develop a new two-seater supercar is still on.
Mulholland Composites, which specialised in the manufacture of carbon composite components including for Formula One teams and the aerospace and defence sectors, was based in a modern factory on Belmore Way, off Raynesway.
The firm recently made all of its 45 employees redundant, with owner Graham Mulholland blaming the closure of the company on landlords Derby City Council, following a dispute over the lease of the factory.
The city council said it had done its best to ensure the building had remained occupied.
The 480 in the name refers to the car’s brake horsepower, and he said an electric version was also being considered – if he can find the right platform to run it.
Mr Mulholland said he is talking to potential partners to get the sports car off the drawing board – and planning to move the operation to either Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire.
He said he was talking to contacts in the automotive industry and looking at a potential new home for it near either Donington Park, in Leicestershire, or Beeston, in Nottinghamshire.
Mr Mulholland said if and when it does go into production it could retail for £100,000 to £120,000 with maybe 100-150 cars initially planned.
He told Business Live: “The car is still happening – it’s absolutely still going to happen.
“Unfortunately due to a hostile landlord we had no option other than to put Mulholland Composites into administration, with the inevitable backlash as we have had to negotiate the administration process.
“We think there is a niche for this car and there is still an ambition to do it.
“When it is going to launch will depend on a few things we still have to tie up.
“Despite Derby City Council’s actions we have had lots of support from people we have got to know in the business over the past 25 years, and three or four significant suppliers say they will help us get the car going.
“We don’t need our own composites company to make the parts – we have a world-renowned engineering consultancy that wants to work with us and will hopefully be able to announce that by Christmas.
“We were hoping to have the car in production this year. The support has been amazing from fellow performance business owners.
“We have lots of friends from F1 firms right through to people that make tooling and wheels and tyres who have offered support to get this going.
“I think we will surprise people with the timescale – but they will not be made in Derby. We hope to secure a site in Nottinghamshire or Leicestershire.
“We have been talking to MSV about possible space at Donington race track and there’s a site in Beeston we have asked about, but we have got to get through the chaos of the Mulholland Composites’ demise, and get that behind us as quickly as possible.“
Mr Mulholland said Mulholland Composites – based in a modern factory in Belmore Way, off Raynesway – had cash in the bank and forward orders of £4 million when Derby City Council decided not to renew the lease in March.
A city council spokeswoman said: “The council is the freehold owner of the building.
“The previous tenants of the building went into administration in November 2019 and since then the building has been under the control of the administrator.
“In February 2021, the administrator surrendered its lease of the building to the council and the council has since been working to ensure the building is lawfully occupied.
“Derby City Council is fully committed to supporting the thousands of brilliant local businesses that make up the city’s £7.1 billion economy.
“Since March 2020, the authority has provided over £60 million of direct grant funding and £45 million of business rates relief to businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors, protecting tens of thousands of jobs.
“Looking to the future, the council is also actively investing in a range of projects and programs to protect existing jobs, whilst encouraging businesses to invest in growth.”
Richard Saville, senior partner with insolvency practitioners Corporate Financial Solutions, who is handling the administration, confirmed that there had been a dispute between the city council and Mulholland Composites prior to his firm being brought in.
Mr Saville said: “We were appointed on March 24 but by then the company had ceased trading which is an unusual position for us to find ourselves in.
“We had a factory full of machinery but no staff, who had all been made redundant. We met with interested parties but actually had no company to trade.
“We did sell the work in progress to another company but there was no opportunity for us to sell the business.
“So we are tying up the loose ends now and sorting out employee claims mainly.”