Friday, December 28, 2012
MORE than 150 workers at an East Anglia-based offshore and marine electrical installation firm have been made redundant following the appointment of administrators.
Shocked staff at the E-Tech Group were told the news on the last day before their scheduled Christmas and New Year break
Around 10 workers are being kept on to help the administrators, from accountancy firm BDO, with the rest made redundant.
Around half of the firm’s staff are based in Great Yarmouth, where it is based, and in Lowestoft, with workers based at satellite offices in South Shields, Middlesbrough and Southampton also affected.
E-Tech had run into financial difficulties linked to a major water industry contract in October but, under a Company Voluntary Arrangement, creditors agreed a refinancing deal to help ease cashflow problems.
Director Gary Williams, who is among those made redundant, said: “The problems that took us into the CVA caused us so much severe damage and there have been further unfortunate events since then.
“Almost as soon as the CVA had been agreed one of our customers, South Boats on the Isle of Wight, went into administration owing us about £300,000.”
That company had since been bought by locally-based Alicat, but there was no prospect of E-Tech receiving any significant sum from the administrators.
Mr Williams, who resigned his board position on Norfolk Chamber of Commerce at the time E-Tech was hit by financial problems, said the position had become worse when several senior managers decided to leave.
He said: “We did not have a shortage of work. The problem with managers leaving was that customers were picking up vibes and were unsure whether we would finish the contract. In the end, we had no choice but to go into adminstration.”
Mr Williams, who has also stepped down from his roles as chief executive of industry body Marine East and as a director of the East of England Energy Group, described the affair as a “painful process for all of us” and insisted it was “unavoidable” that some staff had been broken the news of redundancy by telephone.
He said the only hope of some staff keeping their jobs rested with the administrators being able to save part of the business.
As recently as two years ago, E-Tech was making positive headlines for successfully breaking into the lucrative market for doing electrical installations on the type of superyachts owned by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.