Belfast Telegraph

Family firm fears it could go under after collapse of Co Antrim building company

By Margaret Canning

A creditor of T&A Kernoghan has said he fears for the future of his family business after the collapse of the Co Antrim builders.

The man, who did not wish to be named, employs up to 70 people in a construction-related company.

T&A Kernoghan, which is based in Newtownabbey, went into administration on Monday, with the loss of 74 jobs, as the company ceased work on building sites both here and in Great Britain.

It had been facing two winding-up petitions over debts owed to PAW Structures in Yorkshire and Michael Moore Contracts in Co Down.

While the creditor said that his Co Londonderry firm had a strong pipeline of work - with jobs taking place in Dublin and London - the non-payment of the £800,000 owed by T&A Kernoghan was hitting his business's cashflow.

"It's not good for us but we will just have to keep going," he added. "We have a big job in Dublin, a job in London and another job starting in London, and doing those jobs will now depend on how our suppliers work with us.

"We want to keep going because of all the sons and nephews that we employ in the company."

Non-payment of creditor sub-contractors - known as 'subbies' - has been a major problem when building firms have gone bust.

T&A Kernoghan's creditor said more help should be available from Stormont for sub-contractors of collapsed firms. "They had £5m to help the farmers after snow (in early 2013) but they weren't losing the figures we are losing - just a few score of sheep," he added.

The firm had been working on an extension to the Magee campus of Ulster University. A university spokeswoman said: "The university continues to manage the construction work under way to ensure the continued progress of the development of the new teaching block at our Magee campus."

Administrators Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy of BDO added: "A winding-up petition had been presented against the company by one of its creditors and this has subsequently been supported by a number of other creditors."

They said that company directors notified their secured lender - Upstream Capital - that another firm in their group of six companies was also insolvent. The directors then asked Upstream to appoint administrators to T&A.

BDO said: "It is with regret that due to the extent of the company's financial difficulties, the joint administrators have been required to make all staff redundant and cease operations across the various building sites throughout the UK.

"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 firm."

Belfast Telegraph