One of Northern Ireland's leading construction companies has gone into administration.
Family-run Carvill Group, which was founded in Warrenpoint a century ago, said it would place three of its companies into administration “with great regret”.
So far administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers have only been appointed to holding company Carvill Group. A spokesman for PwC said: “We are currently in discussion with the directors and will issue a further statement in due course.”
It is not clear how many jobs could be affected by the administration.
The company, which has residential and commercial developments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, the north of England and Germany, has been trying to reach a company voluntary arrangement with its lenders for the past four months.
Group managing director Christopher Carvill said: “This is a sad day for all of us who have tried so hard to find an alternative solution.
“We are very hopeful that current projects in hand will continue to be developed during the course of the administration process — this should ensure that current employment levels will be maintained.
“However, this will ultimately be a decision for the appointed administrators.”
It’s understood the company’s directors decided to take the step yesterday morning.
The companies Mr Carvill said would go into administration are Carvill Group, Carvill Scotland and Carvill Newcastle. But administrators have not yet been appointed to the last two businesses.
The spokesman for Carvill said the group had made “every attempt” to reach proposals for a company voluntary arrangement with lenders.
“Unfortunately, due to the adverse economic climate which has depressed sales within the markets in which the group operates, and due to other reasons beyond its control, filing for the protection of administration was the only viable option.”
In 2006 the company bought the former air conditioning plant Sirocco Works for £40m from William Ewart Properties — a record price for a development site.
The £40m acquisition of Sirocco Works, just one year before property values began to tumble, is thought to have contributed to the firm’s troubles.
Carvill also tried to build up a landbank for future developments — but the value of the landbank fell from £175.3m to £127.3m between 2007 and 2008.
The Sirocco Works cost Carvill Group £40m. That acquisition has become an albatross for Carvill with land values dropping a year later. But there was good news when the site obtained planning permission for over 2,000 homes, as well as offices and commercial businesses. But with the company’s problems, work is not expected to begin in the near future.