Failed Ulster company 'over £3m in debt '
Reid Transport, the failed Co Antrim haulage firm, was in debt to the tune of £3.3m according to its most recent set of accounts, it has been claimed.
David Pattison, senior analyst of business analysts Plimsoll Publishing from England, said that interest payments were costing the company £200,000 a year.
He said the firm had last filed company accounts in 2005 but that they painted a picture of a business that was heavily under-capitalised.
"Reid Transport last filed accounts in 2005. While this is by no means unusual, troubled companies often file late.
"A cash injection of £2m would have bought the business some time but serious changes would have been needed to turn the company's fortunes around," he said.
Tees-side-based Plimsoll said data filed with Companies House in Belfast in 2005 showed that Reid Transport had £2.9m in short-term debt and £400,000 in long-term debt.
Mr Pattison predicted that the family-owned company might not be the only casualty in the UK freight sector as the credit crunch begins to bite.
"With fuel prices on the increase, and the banks tightening their belts, it might not be the last haulage firm to go under," he said.
Reid Transport called in administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers on Wednesday, who said there was no prospect of saving the company or 200 staff jobs.
Employment minister Sir Reg Empey expressed sympathy to employees and sub-contractors affected by the collapse of the company, which he described as "disappointing".
"The timing of this announcement couldn't be worse, coming so close to Christmas. Sadly, this has happened in the past with announcements of closures at this time of the year," he said.
The minister said that the Department of Employment, in partnership with the Social Security Agency and other organisations, would provide advice and support for employees of Reid Transport.
"The local jobs and benefits office is already dealing with individuals who have been affected by the announcement.
"Officials from the Department will be meeting with the company on Monday. "
As the firm has run out of money, there will be no compensation for workers who have been made redundant.
All they will be able to avail of is the Government's statutory minimum redundancy payments which are made available to workers with more than two years' service.
Under the terms of this arrangement, such employees are entitled to one week's pay for each year of service, up to a maximum of £310 per week.
A question mark continued to hang over the future of Reid Motorsport, an affiliated company which was heavily into rallying sponsorship.
In a Press release issued in September, Reid Transport managing director Liam Reid said that Reid Motorsport, of which he was team director, had "exciting plans" in place for the future.
He said this was "contrary to the many rumours circulating the Irish motorsport scene at the moment".
"The Reid Transport business is in a very healthy state. We don't want to be here today and gone tomorrow," he said.
"We have recently opened a new depot in London and the business has never been healthier."