Rok enters administration

Image caption,
Rok specialises in maintenance and employs more than 3,800 people across the UK

Rok, the Exeter-based building services company, has confirmed it is in administration.

Administrators said they would try to find a buyer for the company and said all staff would still be paid.

In August, the company - which employs almost 4,000 people - reported a £3.8m loss for the first half of the year.

Just one week before the results, the group said it had uncovered "serious failings" in financial and operational controls.

Both Rok plc and Rok Building Limited have been placed in administration.

Rok provides building services for councils, schools, housing associations and businesses.

The announcement comes just 10 weeks after social housing firm Connaught entered administration - leading to some 1,400 redundancies.

At that time, Rok said it was in a strong position to pick up some of Connaught's former contracts.

'Urgent review'

In a statement on Monday, Rok said: "The board of Rok plc announces that it has resolved to put the company into administration and to make an application to the Financial Services Authority to suspend the listing and trading of the company's ordinary shares."

Mike Jervis, joint administrator and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said: "Our immediate priority is to urgently review the financial position of the company and seek a buyer of the businesses.

"Employees will naturally be concerned about their position, but they will continue to be paid if they attend work and perform their duties as normal."

Mr Jervis said that there was no single factor responsible for Rok's problems.

"The accounting problems uncovered at the beginning of the year and the profit warning led to a dropping off of orders," he said, "and the constraints on public sector spending have also had an impact," he told BBC News.

As for Rok's future, he is optimistic. "We've had loads of interest today both from large companies looking at a wholesale purchase of the company and smaller businesses interested in individual sites."

The administrator aims to have a sale sorted within days rather than weeks.

Unfinished work

Last month, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) signed a four year contract worth £32m with Rok to work on a number of construction projects.

HIE said it would be seeking an urgent meeting with the administrators.

"Our priority is to ensure that projects in HIE's Operating Plan ... will be completed despite this setback."

The work includes the upgrade of a fabrication yard near Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis which is being upgraded to handle renewable energy work.

Rok is also contracted to redevelop a former military air base, Machrihanish in Argyll, into a site for manufacturing wind turbines.

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