THE businessman who founded the troubled Border Cars firm has confirmed that it will cease trading.

As scores of cars were removed from branches in Workington and Carlisle for a “closing down sale”, the firm’s founder and director Mike Fusco told the News & Star that rising costs and tough motor trading conditions mean the firm cannot continue trading.

Border Cars Limited employs more than 300 people in Workington, Carlisle, and in southern Scotland.

Many staff have taken to social media to complain that they have been left in the dark about whether or not they still have jobs.

In a statement, Mr Fusco, who owns the firm, said he wanted to respond to the “speculation” swirling around the firm’s future.

“Border Cars maintains an ongoing business relationship with their funders and are currently in talks with two or three potential buyers in order to try and save as many jobs as possible,” he said.

“In recent years, despite the challenging market conditions, both management and staff have worked tirelessly to maintain a profitable business.

“However, with ongoing rising costs, and the tough retail climate for the industry, it is with the greatest of reluctance that we are unable to continue trading.

“We would like to thank all those employees past and present, who made the business what it was. We would also like to extend our warm appreciation to our many customers who have supported us so loyally.

“To the present group of staff we extend our utmost gratitude.”

He added that the closing down sale had been launched at the firm’s dealerships in Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Ayrshire.

Facebook posts about the firm have presented a litany of complaints, with comments such as this from Heather Jayne Sharpe: “I do feel for them losing their jobs, but by the same token I’m not surprised about it either,.I got one car off them and swore never to go back. The customer service wasn’t the best.”

Some focused on how staff at the firm appeared to have been told little by their bosses about what is likely to happen.

Emma McBurnie said: “I think it’s ridiculous still trying sell cars when poor staff don’t know where they stand. My thoughts with them all.”

In May, Brampton man David Short, 80, claims he asked Border Cars to check his Kia Ceed car because a warning light had illuminated on his dashboard. The firm kept the car for a week, diagnosing a faulty turbocharger, and billing him £57.

A week later, he claims Dobies in Workington said the turbocharger was fine. The problem was a missing engine clip, which took 10 minutes to replace and cost 50p.

Border Cars staff have been warned they may have to claim wages, redundancy and holiday pay through the Government.

One Carlisle worker said staff were this week told to return their company cars. “It’s very frustrating: we’re turning up for work, dealing with customers, and hanging around all day - but there’s no stock here to sell.

“The lack of communication is an insult on top of what is an already terrible situation.”

* Border Motor Group, (with dealerships in Carlisle, Dumfries, and St Boswells, Scotland), has pointed out it has no connection whatsoever to Border Cars.