IT’S D-DAY for staff at cash-strapped Patton Construction as the axe fell on 190 jobs.
Administrator Tom Keenan and his team briefed staff in groups of 25 at the company’s Ballymena HQ to deliver the bad news that they no longer have jobs – with just over five weeks to Christmas.
Sources told Belfast Daily earlier that the axe will fall on up to 200 jobs – two thirds of the pay-roll – as the administrator tries to salvage the debt-ridden company.
However, administrator Tom Keenan says that 190 jobs will go, leaving 130 on the company books in a last ditched effort save the firm from finally going into liquidation.
In a statement, the administrator said: “It has been necessary to make a number of staff redundant as of 9 November (today)”.
The statement said that the cancellation of contracts had led to the staff reduction.
“Following the company’s recent trading difficulties, a number of the company’s contracts were terminated by customers and the reduced level of activity in the business has directly impacted the level of staff required.
“The administrator will continue to review employment in the context of workload and the financial condition of the company and will keep employees informed.”
The job cuts is a major blow for owner Davy Patton OBE, a personal friend of Prince Charles who once spent a weekend at one of his country retreats.
The 100-year business has been in his family for four generations.
A source said: “We know Davy wouldn’t want this to happen. But it is the sign of the times in the construction industry.
“Nobody blames him. He is a good man who has been good to staff over the years.”
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, chair of the committee for enterprise, trade and investment, said a number of companies had been in touch with him to voice their concerns.
“Some of these local companies are owed substantial amounts of money and not getting paid could tip them over the edge.”
The job cuts are a sign that the company is in dire financial straights, as Belfast Daily revealed on Monday.
We were realiably told that the company was about to go to the wall and an administrator was to be appointed.
Belfast Daily sent the company a list of questions which had been raised with us by staff at the 100-year-old firm.
However, the company refused to answer them directly.
Instead, the company gave a statement which said: “We have been working with our bank over recent months to seek to navigate our way through what has been and continues to be a very difficult period.
“This contact is ongoing.”
The statement left staff in the dark as to their future at the company. One told us: “We knew they were having cash flow problems. It was pretty obvious.”
“What we wanted to know was there going to be redundancies. They couldn’t even answer that.”
The administrator has spent three days going through the company books to see if any part of the firm can salvaged for sale.
Patton’s has a renound name in Ireland, Britain and Europe.
Some of its major clients over the years have been Primark, Debenhams, Burtons where it carried out major refits on stores.
Over the last two years, Patton’s has amassed losses on its turnover of around £17 million.
In February, 50 staff were made redundant and workers feared more were to come before the end of the year.
Today, that fear has been finally realised as workers go home to tell their families they don’t have a job anymore.