AN Ayr-based tyre and MOT specialist with 60 depots across Scotland and the north of England has been acquired by Halfords for £8.5 million, sparking a multi-million-pound pay-out for its owners.

The car accessories giant has acquired family-owned McConechy’s Tyre Service in deal that appears to have triggered a near-£7m windfall for the McConechy family. It also looks to have resulted in a big payday for managing director Donald Carmichael.

McConechy’s, which was founded in 1957 and employs 330 staff, was majority owned by Derek and Vivienne McConechy, who between them held 80% of the shares in parent company McConechy Holdings. Mr Carmichael, the third-biggest shareholder, held 20% of McConechy Holdings, which held all of the shares in McConechy's Tyre Service.

Under Mr Carmichael, McConechy’s steadily grew its depot portfolio on both sides of the Border, both organically and through acquisition. It acquired Strathclyde Tyres in 2017 in a deal which brought it depots in Johnstone, Coatbridge, Kilmarnock and Leven into the fold.

READ MORE: Tyre firm McConechy suffers reverse after takeover write-offs

The most recent accounts for McConechy Holdings show it made a pre-tax loss of £24,206 in the 18 months ended October 31. While revenue increased to £69.7m over the extended accounting period, rising from £43m from the preceding year, it slipped into the red after writing off goodwill purchased on acquisitions. It had lodged a pre-tax profit of £383,937 in the year to April 30, 2017

McConechy Holdings noted in those accounts that the tyre market had “continued on the trajectory of previous years with an increase in online selling and online comparison sites within the car and retail sector and increased demands placed on service providers within the commercial sector.”

Documents at Companies House show that the appointments of Derek McConechy, Donald Carmichael and John Mason as directors of McConechy’s Tyre Service were terminated on November 5. It is unclear whether Mr Carmichael is staying with the business. He was unavailable for comment last night.

Halfords described the deal for the Scottish chain as a “highly complementary acquisition” that would support its car services offer, noting that customers would now be able to access more than 900 service locations around the UK. It is understood to view McConechy’s skilled staff as a major asset.

READ MORE: Depot deal drives sales at McConechy's tyre chain

Halfords’ swoop for McConechy’s comes as it aims to double the contribution of service-related sales to group revenues.

The group highlighted the impact of a difficult consumer environment as it reported yesterday that underlying profits had tumbled by 15% to £25.9m in the six months to September 27. That came as like-for-like sales dropped by 3.1%.

Statutory pre-tax profits were 2.5% lower at £27.5 million, with firm revealing that demand for so-called big ticket items, such as more expensive bikes, were the hardest hit.

Graham Stapleton, chief executive of Halfords, said: “This acquisition is highly complementary to Halfords’ service-led strategy, and the addition of McConechy’s further strengthens our growing and unique motoring services offer, which includes Autocentres, Halfords Mobile Expert and our weFit services in our stores.

“The additional garages and vans increase our national presence and takes Halfords to within a 15-minute drivetime to over half of UK households.

“The vehicle servicing market is a £10bn market, but one which remains highly fragmented, offering significant scope for Halfords’ trusted and recognised consumer brand to grow its market share considerably.

 “I am extremely proud of how our Autocentres team has developed in the last few years, continually demonstrating their ability to evolve by implementing new processes, systems, and capability.

“This has transformed the financial performance of Autocentres and, by welcoming McConechy’s and its highly skilled team to the Halfords Group, I am confident of continued success in the years ahead.”

The McConechy family were advised by Grant Thornton, led by partner Neil McInnes. He said: “This is a great outcome for our long-standing client.”