KPL Contracts: All 202 staff made redundant at Dungiven firm

The administrators said efforts to save KPL had been unsuccessful

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More than 200 workers have been made redundant at a County Londonderry utilities contractor, one day after the company was placed in administration.

KPL Contracts, based in Dungiven, carried out work for utility firms like BT, NIE and NI Water.

It installed and maintained water, sewage, telecoms, electricity, and street lighting facilities.

The administrators said efforts to save the business had been unsuccessful and all 202 workers have lost their jobs.

Start Quote

I advised the workforce of the position yesterday (Friday) afternoon and it is with regret that I had no alternative but to make all 202 workers redundant with immediate effect.”

End Quote Stephen Cave, PwC Joint administrator

KPL Contracts' utilities business had been performing well, but the firm had also borrowed ten of millions of pounds to get involved in property development.

'Not commercially viable'

Those debts put a major strain on its core business, ultimately leading to the collapse of the firm.

Stephen Cave and Matthew Hammond from PwC were appointed joint administrators on Friday.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Cave said: "I said on appointment that the first hours would determine the company's financial position and future options.

"This included its ability to facilitate and fund the ongoing needs of key customers.

"However, our immediate review concluded that continuing to trade was not commercially viable.

Wages

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Cathal Ó hOisín

We have to remember that most of these people were unaware of the exact enormity of the situation at half past one yesterday, and 24 hours later they are out of work.”

End Quote Cathal Ó hOisín Sinn Féin

"I advised the workforce of the position yesterday (Friday) afternoon and it is with regret that I had no alternative but to make all 202 workers redundant with immediate effect.

"I can confirm that wages due yesterday have been paid," Mr Cave added.

Cathal Ó hOisín, a Sinn Féin MLA for the area, said: "Everybody is just stunned, absolutely numb with this.

"I suppose it will take maybe a week or two before the full impact of this comes in.

"We have to remember that most of these people were unaware of the exact enormity of the situation at half past one yesterday, and 24 hours later they are out of work."

Loss

A division of KPL Contracts had, at one time, planned to develop more than 2,000 houses in Ballyclare, County Antrim.

However, the firm's most recent set of accounts, filed just before Christmas, stated that it had "suffered impairments" to the value of its property holdings and that the Ballyclare lands have been sold.

The accounts, for the period between April 2011 and September 2012, show a pre-tax loss of £6.2m.

There had been speculation about the firm's future since the start of the week and some of the firm's employers and subcontractors held a meeting in Dungiven on Thursday night.

KPL Contracts was founded in 1994 by Kevin Lynch who had been carrying out contracting work as a sole trader since 1983.

He grew the company to become one of the leading utility contractors in Northern Ireland, working in areas from street lighting to wind farms.

KPL Contracts also got involved in property, planning a massive development in Ballyclare, known as Westlands.

However, only the initial phase was developed.

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