Belfast Telegraph

Major losses for creditors after T&A Kernoghan confirms it has been placed in administration

By Margaret Canning

The directors of stricken Co Antrim construction firm T&A Kernoghan Ltd have confirmed it's now in administration.

Company boss Richard Kernoghan last night said administrators had been appointed to the family business by their former funders, Upstream Capital.

Administrators BDO are expected to attend a court hearing this morning to rubber-stamp their appointment.

Mr Kernoghan said he and fellow directors and shareholders "wish to express their profound disappointment" at the development.

But sub-contractors have said they are owned large amounts of money by T&A Kernoghan.

The firm is already facing two winding-up orders from contractors Michael Moore and Paw Structures Ltd, though hearings into the orders have been adjourned.

Other sub-contractors who are owed money include a cleaner owed £8,000 and a major supplier who is owed £800,000.

One businessman said he was already nursing severe losses from the administration of building firms Patton Ltd in Ballymena in 2012 and the receivership of Kennedy Group in Coleraine one year later.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that Upstream Capital - which provided invoice finance to fund a management buy-out by the directors - were set to take the step against T&A Kernoghan.

In his statement last night, Mr Kernoghan claimed the buy-out took place after losses were accrued on a major project to build a Sikh temple in Glasgow.

And Mr Kernoghan said the buy-out "had saved the business and secured around 100 direct jobs and around 500 sub-contractor jobs".

No one was available for comment from Upstream Capital.

In its last full set of accounts, for the year ending March 31, 2014, T&A Kernoghan Ltd had turnover of £25.4m and pre-tax profits of £77,000. At that time it employed 88 people though the workforce is thought to have dwindled to around 50.

Last year T&A Kernoghan was removed from two major building contracts in Britain. Gorebridge Community Development Trust in Scotland removed the firm from a £2.2m project to build a community centre and office space in September.

And South Ayrshire Council took the decision to remove it from a £1.5m golf clubhouse project due to various delays a month earlier.

There are around six firms in the T&A Kernoghan group. Holding company T&A Kernoghan (Holdings) Ltd reported turnover of nearly £30m in the year to March 31, 2015, though pre-tax profits were just £18,000.

And accounts for the year ending March 31 2015 for T&A Kernoghan (Group) Ltd show it had £25.5m in sales over the period, and pre-tax profits of £77,000.

A mechanical services subsidiary made sales of £2.27m and paid £71,200 of management charges to T&A Kernoghan Ltd during the financial year, the accounts show.

A company registered at the same address on Blackwater Road, Mallusk, as T&A Kernoghan was put into administration a week ago.

Business advisers PJG Recovery was appointed administrators of Alom Properties - which also shares many of the same directors as T&A Kernoghan.

The administration of Patton Group in Ballymena in 2012 led to losses of around £15m for its subcontractors. That led to calls for action to safeguard so-called 'subbies' in the event of company collapse.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said construction firms here are too reliant on Great Britain for work. Gavin McGuire from the FMB in Northern Ireland said the Assembly should make safeguarding the construction industry at home a key priority.

Builders pay a high price, Page 30

Belfast Telegraph