Blakedown Landscapes (Operations) to close

Blakedown Landscapes (Operations), based in Bristol, has gone into administration after 45 years in the landscape contracting industry.

The company is not connected or associated with the separate trading companies Blakedown Environment & Leisure plc, Blakedown Landscapes (SE) Ltd & Blakedown Sport & Play Ltd.

The directors of Blakedown Landscapes (Operations) - Nicholas Barfoot, Jonathon Griffin and managing director Jonathan Salem - have expressed their "heartfelt sadness" that the £14m turnover company will cease trading, with the loss of 55 jobs. In a statement they said the company had "suffered bad debts exceeding £600,000 during 2015 with the collapse of clients GB Building Solutions and Fairhurst Ward Abbotts".

The statement continued: "Although the business successfully restructured its finances during the year and delivered profitable work, cash flow has been hampered by several ongoing payment disputes and a lower than anticipated order book.

"Significant efforts have been made to attract an inward investment or sell the business to secure its future. A deal was close to agreement in the last few days but, despite every endeavour, this failed to achieve a positive outcome leaving the directors with no choice but to close the business."

The directors added: "Our thoughts are with our supply chain, staff and clients at this time who will be significantly affected by the situation."

A notice of intention to appoint CVR Global as administrators was filed at Birmingham Court on 2 June. Creditors and suppliers can contact the administrators directly on 0121 794 0600.

Prior to the recession Blakedown Landscapes (Operations) worked mainly for local authority clients, but during the recession switched to mainly commercial builds and had developed a healthy mix of local authority and private sector work. However like most contractors the company suffered from public sector cutbacks and the tight construction market.

But managing director Jonathan Salem said the company was in relatively good shape prior to the two construction firms' collapsing, and until a fortnight ago it was thought the company would continue. The company had been bringing in new large jobs as recently as last month, including the hard landscaping for the £49m Barons Quay project in Northwich.

Salem said the directors had done everything they could to save the 45-year-old company.

"We have genuinely fought like you wouldn't believe to not get to this position ... We're not just walking away. Some companies go into administration because it's an easy way to get rid of debt and start again the next day - that's not what we're about. We haven't been successful, but it's not an easy option to close."

Salem said he didn't think the company could have done anything differently with regards to the contractors. The company had not worked with Fairhurst Ward Abbotts previously but they "looked good on paper". Fairhurst held a royal warrant and had worked on prestigious projects such as Chatsworth House, the Houses of Parliament and the National Gallery.

Many staff in GB Building Solutions were also taken by surprise when that business went under.

The £200m-turnover GB Building Solutions went bust in 2015 following legal disputes and cashflow problems, leaving its creditors in the trade some £30m out of pocket. At least two subcontractors were put into administration following the construction company's collapse.

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