Belfast Telegraph

240 staff facing axe as two companies go bust

By Margaret Canning

Almost 250 jobs were in jeopardy last night after an electrical wholesaler and security firm both went out of business.

Liquidators were appointed to Lisburn-based Checkmate Security and Guarding, which employs around 200 people, after legal action over an unpaid tax bill.

The partnership held Government contracts including the security of Stormont Estate and other Government buildings.

A spokesman for liquidators RSM McClure Watters said: “Liquidator Gregg Sterritt is currently reviewing the operations of the business and is hopeful that a significant number of its contracts, together with the relevant employees, may be transferred to a new operator.”

Many employees of Checkmate are in their sixties and seventies. One employee said he had experienced business closures throughout his working life. “I’ve been made redundant so many times — you work for the company, then it goes to the wall.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Finance and Personnel, which awards Civil Service contracts, said it had transferred “elements” of its security services contract to security giant G4S “with immediate effect”.

Meanwhile, directors of electrical store H Ritchie, which had two premises with 40 staff in Belfast and Enniskillen, said they appointed administrators after

“major challenges in trading through a depressed market and consequential cash flow problems”.

Managing director Henry Ritchie said: “It is with the greatest regret that we have reached this difficult decision which we believe is the only choice we have been left with.

“On behalf of myself and all the directors we wish to pay tribute to the dedication and professionalism of our staff who have supported us throughout these difficulties. We recognise the support of customers and suppliers.”

The spokeswoman for H Ritchie said administrator John Cavanagh of Cavanagh Kelly would try to keep the business trading so it could be sold as a going concern.


Job losses at Checkmate Security and Guarding and H Ritchie come during a time of rising unemployment in Northern Ireland. In August the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance soared over 60,000 for the first time since October 1997. Electrical wholesaler H Ritchie blamed its administration on a challenging trading climate environment.

Belfast Telegraph