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Over 30 jobs lost as Fermanagh quarry firm P Clarke and Sons is sold off to FP McCann

By John Mulgrew

Published 18/08/2015

Eoin McCann, managing director of FP McCann in Magherafelt
Eoin McCann, managing director of FP McCann in Magherafelt

A family-run Co Fermanagh quarry and construction firm has been sold off in a pre-pack administration, resulting in the loss of more than 30 jobs.

P Clarke and Sons in Lisnaskea entered administration on Friday, but has now been taken over by Co Londonderry engineering and concrete firm FP McCann.

Administrators BDO were appointed to the firm, with 32 of the company's 90 employees made redundant last week.

It said the administration was due to increased pressure on the firm's cash reserves - hit by a weak euro, cuts in Government contracts and "several unprofitable contracts".

A pre-pack sale was then agreed with Magherafelt-based FP McCann following “a formal sales and marketing process, which has been undertaken in recent weeks”.

The administrators said 58 jobs were secured and the business “will continue to trade under new ownership and with the continued support of the existing senior management team”.

But it’s understood the firm had a workforce of around 90 staff.

“The administrators and their staff will be responsible for maximising value for the company’s stakeholders through the realisation of the remaining assets of the company,” administrators said.

It comes just a week after workers at P Clarke and Sons were issued with a notice of redundancy.

Gareth Scott of the Unite union claimed it had not been consulted on the potential job losses.

The union had also raised concerns about the “huge loss” of manufacturing employment in the Lisnaskea area, and the potential future of P Clarke and Sons.

The third generation firm was set up in the 1930s as a contracting and quarrying business.

In the latest set of group accounts for P Clarke and Sons Ltd, the firm cites a “loss of confidence in the economy” leading to “more difficult trading conditions”.

The firm reported turnover of around £20m and a small profit of £75,000 — after taking out interest, tax and other expenses — according to the last set of accounts ending March 31, 2014.

Staff numbers rose to 111 from 96 a year earlier.

In a statement, joint administrator Michael Jennings said: “We are pleased that the business will continue to trade and that 58 jobs have been safeguarded as a result of the sale”.

Its new owners FP McCann saw turnover grow by 50% in the latest set of accounts for the year to the end of January 2015.

Employment also grew from 690 to 900 during 2014. The firm operates a number of sites across Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK.

Set up in 1945, the company is involved in big civil engineering projects, including upgrading the Glarryford to Frosses Road.

The acquisition of P Clarke and Sons comes just weeks after Londonderry firm Maydown Precision Engineering (MPE) was acquired by Waterford firm Schivo for an undisclosed sum after entering administration.

Between 10 and 15 staff face redundancy, as the firm intends to slim down the workforce.

Belfast Telegraph

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