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Collapse of Co Antrim glass-maker caused by property market slump

By John Mulgrew

Published 06/05/2016

The interior of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
The interior of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
The exterior of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)

A Co Antrim glass-maker which entered administration after more than 40 years in business "suffered significantly" from the collapse of the property market, it's emerged.

Around 30 jobs were lost when the Lisburn Glass Group entered administration in February.

Now, an administrators' report shines a light into the company's financial struggles.

The firm's collapse was also caused by the downfall of other businesses, which owed Lisburn Glass Group money, according to the report.

It says the company had "traded successfully over a number of years and experienced significant periods of growth".

But it says it "suffered significantly as a result in the decline in the property and construction sectors from 2008 onwards".

The administrators' report said that this hit the firm through "reduced workloads and being owed large sums of money by customers who themselves entered insolvency".

The company was set up in 1971 and developed a national reputation in the industrial and commercial glazing market.

Some of its high-profile contracts included the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) building.

Lisburn Glass Group Limited worked on big-name projects such as the Boat and Arc buildings in Belfast.

Gareth Latimer and Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton were appointed as administrators. Their report says as a result of the cash flow problems "significant arrears" began to mount up, owed to HMRC and other creditors at the beginning of last year.

During that time, the company sought external investment and also refinanced its debt with the Bank of Ireland. And it said despite this further investment and "financial restructuring", there was no increase in sales.

The directors then reviewed the "financial viability of the company" and "in order to protect creditors' interests it was felt the company should enter administration".

And it says the assets of the business were sold to another company, Lisburn Glass Manufacturing Limited, for £150,000. That deal completed in March.

The business left behind debts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, while owing £650,000 as secured debt to the Bank of Ireland.

And according to the report, the company has a shortfall of more than £1.1m to pay its creditors. The company, which traded for more than 40 years, was based at Blaris Industrial Estate just outside Lisburn.

The manufacturing sector has been dealt a number of big body blows over the last few months.

That includes 1,080 jobs going at Bombardier, while tyre-maker Michelin revealed it was pulling out of Northern Ireland with the loss of 860 jobs.

Belfast Telegraph

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