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Armagh family firm Stevenson ceases trading with loss of 33 jobs as bid to find a buyer fails

By Margaret Canning

More than 30 jobs have been lost after Co Armagh mechanical installation firm Maurice Stevenson Ltd ceased trading, it has emerged.

Administrators were appointed five weeks ago to the Lurgan family company, which had been in business for nearly 100 years.

Insolvency expert Gerard Gildernew said it had hoped to find a buyer for the firm, which installed ventilation and heating systems, but had not been able to do so. A spokeswoman confirmed the company had stopped trading, with 33 staff losing their jobs. An auction of its assets will now be held.

The spokeswoman said: "Following a comprehensive assessment of the options available in respect of the business, including efforts to find a buyer for the business, it has ceased trading.

"The administrator is proceeding to achieve the best outcome for creditors, and this will involve the company assets being placed at auction within the next fortnight."

Auctioneers James Armstrong will hold a public auction of the company's assets on March 11 at the company's headquarters on Annesborough Industrial Estate. The assets include a mobile site office, a Volkswagen Beetle Sport, office equipment and hammer drills.

In January, the company said the decision to go into administration had been painful. The spokeswoman said the death of director David Stevenson in 2012 had been compounded by industry challenges.

"The company has experienced a number of financial challenges following a downturn in the sector generally, resulting in contractors going into insolvency with consequential bad debts, compounded by increasingly tight margins and the marked reduction in public sector works orders," she said.

She added that Mr Stevenson's widow Alison's best efforts to keep the business going "could not overcome the toughening market conditions".

Mrs Stevenson said at the time: "It is with the deepest of regret that we find ourselves having to place the company into administration. I want to pay a heartfelt tribute to current and former staff who have worked hard and demonstrated immense loyalty to this firm and our family down through the years."

Other family-run companies in building materials and services have faced problems. Administrators BDO were appointed last month to run Cootes (Concrete Products Ltd) in Markethill.

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