Fountains Group purchase saves jobs

Fountains Group bought for undisclosed seven-figure sum by OCS after falling into administration.

OCS Group UK has bought grounds and tree contractor Fountains Group, which slumped into administration last Monday, to save 1,570 jobs but shed 446.

Administrators would not reveal how much the seven-figure deal was worth exactly but said the company, which used to be part of Connaught before it collapsed in 2010, was toppled by the prolonged economic downturn.

OCS managing director Martin Gammon said, "This is a clear demonstration of our aim to develop our position as a leader in facilities management. By adding the Fountains brand and customer base to OCS, we will broaden our horticulture service offering."

Fountains chief executive Richard Haddon will for now take on a consultancy role. Gammon insisted that the deal was not an "asset stripping acquisition, which is not compatible with our heritage and culture".

Connaught bought Fountains in 2009 and merged it with Connaught Environmental, but a year later fell into administration owing £220m. But Fountains was profitable and an investment consortium took it over.

"Fountains management worked tirelessly and made a bold attempt to go it alone after Connaught, but it proved too difficult," said Gammon.

Both companies handle grounds upkeep, landscaping, arboriculture, waste management, forestry, land management and street cleaning. OCS's turnover from external works was around £20m in 2010-11, out of a group total of about £500m from other facilities-management services.

Administrator Tony Nygate, a business restructuring partner at BDO, said: "A sale was the best option to secure the future of the business. This enables the company to move forward confidently and on a secure financial footing."

KeyStat

1,570 - Number of staff saved from redundancy by purchase of Fountains Group by OCS Group UK.


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