A BURY businessman who was reported to have been owed a six-figure sum in the wake of last year's crash of MG Rover has put his car dealership company into administration.

Rover cars were a large part of his business until the Birmingham car manufacturer closed down.

Because of the difficulties surrounding the dealership business, most of the 44 remaining staff have been told they have lost their jobs.

But administrators are hopeful the Bury dealership can still be sold and that jobs can be rescued.

In its heyday, the company operated six showrooms and employed a 155-strong workforce.

Andrew Dick and David Acland, of Preston-based corporate recovery specialists Begbies Traynor, have been appointed as joint administrators of Richard T Cort (Holdings) Ltd and Richard Cort Ltd last Thursday.

The Bury dealership, which still sells Fiats and the Rossendale operation, which sells Kias, continue to operate on a limited basis.

According to the administrators, the businesses were hit by cash-flow pressures and slow payment by manufacturers, resulting in severe losses.

These factors, coupled with the collapse of MG Rover 12 months ago, caused the company's failure.

Mr Dick said: "It's always a great shame when a business fails, especially when supported by the director. After lengthy discussions, it was agreed that the company was not financially viable and the solution was to place it in administration."

Cort customers with manufacturers' warranties will have these honoured at other authorised dealerships, say Begbies Traynor.

On Friday, transporters took a number of vehicles away from the firm's Bury Fiat dealership, which also includes a used car operation. The administrators said the vehicles belonged to finance companies.

In the late 1980s, Richard Cort launched dealerships in Oldham and Burnley before setting up adjoining Rover and Fiat franchises in Blackford Bridge, Bury, in 1990 and 1993 respectively.

Later, he expanded into Rossendale with a Kia dealership.

Mr Cort, a long-time supporter of the Bolton Lads and Girls Club, became a national and prominent player in representing the interests of 264 dealerships when he became chairman of the MG Rover Dealers Council.

Last April, after the demise of MG Rover, the businessman called for Government aid to save Rover dealership jobs. He was apparently owed a six-figure sum.

Last September, Mr Cort effectively closed one MG Rover franchise in Bury but saved the 28 jobs involved when it subsequently reverted to Chrysler Jeep.

But earlier this year, the franchise was sold as were other Cort dealerships.

Mr Cort, who was unavailable for comment this week, left school at the age of 16 and went into the motor trade. He went on to win a clutch of trade awards.