‘It came out of the blue’: More than 200 firms lose out after collapse of 150-year-old building company
PUBLISHED: 07:31 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:16 23 August 2019
A construction firm which collapsed after 155 years owed £1m to around 250 suppliers, including many local businesses.
Gill Building, which folded in June, had been operating since 1864 and focused on school and council contracts from its base at Colton, west of Norwich.
But it called in administrators in June after it said contracts dried up. Its managing director also blamed the "rumour mill" for its demise, which he said made it hard for it to get supplies.
The company, which had 48 staff, owed £1.56m, including £1m to suppliers, according to a report from administrators which has just been published.
The administrators said they hoped to pay back about eight per cent of that.
A spokesman for scaffolding firm VPH Roofing in Watton, which was owed almost £20,000, said: "It was unexpected. It is very unfortunate."
The biggest creditors listed on the administrators' report included MKM Building Supplies, owed £105,000, recruitment firm ARC (Norwich) Ltd, and Direct Resources Services Ltd, which are both owed around £30,000.
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One large supplier, who did not wish to be named, said: "It came out of the blue. The company seemed to be in a strong position.
"Hopefully the administrators will find out what happened."
The company turned over £11m in 2017 and made a small operating profit. It also had a good 2018, but managing director Nick Gale said it had a tough start to 2019 with projects getting delayed.
He also blamed the "rumour mill" for putting the firm into further difficulty.
"I'm very disappointed it came to this," he said. "We worked hard to try to negate the issues but the rumour mill stuffed us."
He said the industry was nervous after the collapse of another construction company, Omnis, earlier this year and once rumours spread that Gill Building was in trouble it became hard to get supplies and to get clients to pay who owed money. "It's been a really difficult time for all," he said. "We had some amazing staff and a very loyal supply chain."
Chairman Andrew Gill, whose family own the company, said in June: "We had a really good year last year but we simply haven't had big enough jobs to keep going."
The administrators said the company's cash flow difficulties were also caused by more competition.