Belfast Telegraph

200 jobs to go at Patton

Sub-contractors struggle as construction giant axes staff

By Margaret Canning

Almost 200 redundancies are to be announced at beleaguered construction company Patton.

The family-run firm, which employs 320 people, has suffered massive losses because of the downturn in the construction sector, including a writedown of nearly £5m on the value of its land.

The majority of the people to lose their jobs will be skilled construction workers and craftspeople.

While it started as a house-builder, Ballymena-based Patton expanded into shop fit-out and museum refurbishment, with a lot of work carried out on shops and properties in England and Scotland.

However, work on many of those contracts has stopped since administrators were appointed on Tuesday.

Administrators Keenan CF were not available for comment yesterday. However, it’s understood that the workforce is to be informed of job losses.

Dozens of sub-contractors are also losing out as a result of the firm’s troubles.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said a sub-contractor in his constituency faced losing a six-figure sum which it was owed by Patton.

“It has really put them in a difficult position,” said Mr McGlone,

who is chairman of the Assembly’s enterprise committee.

“They are a successful contractor but this has left things difficult for them with their bank.”

Many others were owed smaller sums, he said.

“It’s bad enough for Patton employees but the consequential loss will be tremendous. Much of the focus has been on the Patton Group and their losses, but you really could double that.”

Gordon Best, managing director of the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland, said the job losses were a “tragedy” but that the impact would be compounded by the effects on sub-contractors.

“This is the worst crisis to hit the construction sector in Northern Ireland in 20 years,” he said.

Mr Best said around 20 companies represented by his association were owed up to £1m in total by Patton, which had blamed cashflow problems for its decision to call in administrators.

“In the economic climate we have seen over the last four years, any issue like this is a nightmare.

“If you are owned a large sum which you don’t get back, it comes straight off your bottom line.”

He hoped that members would recoup at least some of what they are owned.

Judging on previous administrations, the best case scenario would be to recoup 25p in the pound.

Story so far

Patton is also part of a joint venture with construction firms Farrans and H&J Martin. FMP has worked on a number of schools contracts in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yesterday a spokesman said it was “business as usual” for the venture. Patton is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and most respected building firms and was founded in 1912.

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