Jobs saved as DGT acquires forecourt canopies firm

A company that manufactures and installs canopies for petrol station forecourts has been acquired from administrators securing all 30 jobs.

Besthorpe-based High Cross Forecourt Canopies - a market leader in the design, manufacture and supply of forecourt canopies - called in administrators McTear Williams & Wood on November 8 after being hit by a downturn in trade and a �573,000 bad debt.

But the business, plant and contracts have now been bought by Lenwade-based manufacturing and construction firm DGT Structures for �301,000.

The High Cross staff will be relocated to DGT's Atlas Works base and the acquired business will remain a separate trading arm of DGT.

DGT Structures was formed in October 2008 from the acquisition of Lenwade-based DGT Steel & Cladding out of administration by a consortium of businessmen, led by Van Thurston and SPC Holdings, the business of entrepreneur Andre Serruys, who remains a 'substantial' shareholder.

As well as forecourt canopies, High Cross installs jet wash structures and kiosks, mainly for major supermarkets and oil companies, and DGT bosses hope to build on its customer base and reputation.

DGT managing director Van Thurston said: 'High Cross will remain a separate trading division of DGT Structures and will continue to offer customers the highest quality service that is synonymous with the High Cross name.

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'This acquisition by DGT Structures allows High Cross to benefit from being part of a much stronger operating force with greater purchasing power, larger manufacturing capability and increased site resources, along with a positive commitment to future growth and development within the forecourt and industrial canopy sectors.'

DGT, which employs about 110, has grown to a turnover of �15m, providing building envelope solutions, cladding, rain screens and steel framed structures of up to 7,000 tonnes to the retail, commercial, leisure, health, industrial and education sectors.

Documents filed at Companies House by High Cross administrators Andrew McTear and Chris Williams show the company, founded in 1993, saw profits of �1m in 2004 but was hit by a 'marked downturn in trading activity'.

Higher taxes at the pumps and greater competition coupled with an increase in steel costs resulted in trading losses 'in excess of �675,000' since 2008.

The company was also hit with a �573,000 bad debt from a business which went into liquidation late last year.

Andrew McTear said: 'To preserve value this was a so called pre-pack administration business and asset sale which took place the day we were appointed.

'It was a particularly demanding assignment where we had to draw on all our experience carefully balancing the need for a swift deal with the interests of creditors, but once the sale was agreed in principle it went through smoothly.

'This is a good example of salvaging the most value possible out of insolvency and preserving jobs in that process.'