Belfast Telegraph

Co Armagh concrete firm entered administration with debts of £3.4m

By John Mulgrew

A Co Armagh concrete business went into administration with debts of £3.4m amid rising costs due to planning delays and a slowdown in the construction sector, it can be revealed.

Administrators from business advisory firm BDO were appointed to run Cootes (Concrete Products Ltd) on Redrock Road in Markethill in February after almost 40 years in business.

Now a detailed report from the administrators shows the company owed £3m to its secured creditor, along with a further £400,000 to a range of other businesses.

In its statement of affairs, the administrator said there were three main reasons for the company's difficulties.

These were, it said: "The purchase of additional lands at its Redrock Quarry, Markethill and its Fallaghern Quarry, Sixmilecross.

"Significant delays in associated costs in obtaining the necessary planning permissions required to extend and open the new quarry areas...

"And depressed construction demand and increased competition in local market prices for quarried stone and other concrete products."

The firm recorded losses of £687,000 during the last year.

The company supplied concrete around the Newry, Armagh, Craigavon and Dungannon areas.

The family-run firm was set up in 1978 by husband and wife team David and Lynne Coote and is understood to employ around 20.

Administrators said while directors and advisers had been in "ongoing discussions" with its secured lender, those proved unsuccessful.

The report said that the "first objective was the rescuing of the company as a going concern", however that was not successful.

It added it was "expected there will be insufficient funds" generated from the sale of the company's assets to pay all of its unsecured creditors.

It said the staff are currently being placed on "paid leave".

The report said that followed complications "arising as a result" of legal proceedings.

Speaking at the time the company entered administration, Gordon Best, managing director of trade group the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland, said the Armagh firm was small but well-established.

"It is a well-known firm in the area and this does come as a surprise. It may reflect the state of the construction market and the competitive nature of low prices in the industry," he said.

Belfast Telegraph