Belfast Telegraph

NI building firm jobs safe so far as buyer sought after trouble hits parent company

By Margaret Canning

One of the best-known names in construction in Northern Ireland — which has worked on buildings such as the Obel Tower — has gone into administration after troubles at its parent company.

But there have been no jobs lost at Co Down firm McMullen Facades, based in Moira, as efforts are made to sell the company as a going concern. 

The Moira-based company employs around 275 people in making glass facades for buildings.

It was founded by Edward McMullen in 1971, and later run by his son Ted, who was in charge when it was taken over by English firm Lakesmere in 2012.

Mr McMullen jnr was appointed chief executive of group company Lakesmere last year.

As well as McMullen Facades’ head office in Moira, it also has a large factory in Portadown and offices in Winchester.

It is involved in building projects across the UK, including Leeds, Chester and London.

Its ultimate parent company in England, Gracefold Holdings Ltd — owners of Lakesmere Group Ltd — went into administration at the start of this month.

Now Peter Allen and Richard Hawes have been appointed administrators at the Northern Ireland company.

Mr Allen said: “McMullen Facades Limited is a profitable business that unfortunately has been affected by cash flow issues in the wider Lakesmere group.

“McMullen therefore has continued to trade outside of insolvency while a buyer was sought.

“The business will continue to trade while we seek to sell it as a going concern and there are ongoing discussions with a number of interested parties.”

When appointed administrator to the parent company, Mr Hawes said: “Lakesmere Limited has experienced financial challenges arising from a number of unprofitable contracts. This has resulted in Lakesmere Limited being placed into administration.

“Unfortunately a number of redundancies have to be made in the UK and we are offering those affected support at this difficult time.” Deloitte said 109 jobs are being lost in England.

Mr McMullen spoke of his ambitions for Lakesmere Group in an interview with Construction News last year. “Our mission statement is to be the preferred envelope contractor in the UK, with a big emphasis on — as I’ve been telling all our people — ‘preferred’.”

Mr McMullen remained managing director of McMullen Facades after it was taken over in 2012 by Lakesmere. He then became group chief executive last year following a management buy-out.

In its most recent results — for the year ending January 31, 2016 — the company reported turnover of £37.3m, up from £25.9m a year earlier.

And pre-tax profits had tripled, from around £311,000 to £969,000.

A strategic report filed with the accounts said it had installed its products at “premium high-rise residential and commercial developments in London and throughout the UK”.

And it said its new factory in Portadown was triple the size of its former factory. It added: “We believe we are the biggest UK-owned and UK-based curtain wall and glazing facade specialist contractor.”

It said it was capable of “complex and demanding projects”.

Belfast Telegraph

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