Construction firm in administration
One of Northern Ireland's longest-established construction firms has gone into administration.
Family-run business Patton, which is based in Ballymena, has been hit by financial problems in its centenary year.
The company, which specialises in the fit-out of retail stores, employs around 320 people.
The struggling firm will continue to trade while in administration.
The company has a turnover of around £140 million but posted a £7 million loss last year.
It said the decision was brought on by "extremely challenging trading conditions".
Administrator Tom Keenan, of Keenan CF, is to explore all possible options for the future, including sale of all or parts of the company.
Neil Patton, chairman of the business, said: "This is a very sad day for everyone connected to this family business and the communities we have served for the last 100 years.
"The directors have looked at every possible option to avoid administration, but it became inevitable because of the general downturn in the building sector, pressure on margins and the resultant impact on cashflow."
He added: "Unfortunately, the company has suffered from the widespread downturn impacting the construction industry and, as a result, has experienced a decline in trading performance. The financial position facing the business was such that administration was the last remaining option available to the directors."