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UK: Independent UK Daikin air conditioning distributor Space Air has ceased to trade.

The websites were switched off and calls to its Guildford, Surrey, headquarters went unanswered today. The company is expected to make a statement soon.

Rumours have been circulating for months that the company was in trouble but recent negotiations with Daikin Europe to purchase the business were thought to have been vetoed by Daikin Japan earlier this week.

Established in 1980 by Neil Afram, Space was the last of the original independent UK Daikin distributors, and probably the longest established independent ac distributor in the UK.

During the 80s and 90s, Space and fellow independent distributors Pillinger, Cooling Services, MacQueen and Coolair carved out a huge UK market for Daikin and its, at the time, revolutionary VRV technology.

In 2003, with UK sales representing around 20% of Daikin Europe’s turnover, the Ostend-based manufacturer opened discussions to purchase its UK distributors in an effort to be “closer to the client and their needs”.

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The distribution deal with Coolair had previously been terminated, but Croydon-based Pillinger Air and Bristol-based Cooling Services were acquired and absorbed into the wholly-owned subsidiary, Daikin UK. Glasgow-based MacQueen Air Conditioning followed into the Daikin fold in 2004.

Only Space resisted. Later, md Neil Afram was to comment: “I can’t work for someone else after so long running my own business. It wouldn’t have been fair on any of the parties involved.”

The company continued to be hugely influential at both a national and European level, and won a succession of industry awards. Md Neil Afram served time as president of both the HEVAC Association and FETA. Fellow director Mike Nankivel, who retired at the end of last year, also served as HEVAC president and president of the Heat Pump Association, and was heavily involved with the UK’s input to the formulation of the European F-gas regulations.

Related stories:

Afram: deep sadness at Space failure