Decision day for Haymills

A DECISION will be made by the end of today to determine the future of Stowmarket building firm Haymills and its 700 employees.

Elliot Furniss

A DECISION will be made by the end of today to determine the future of Stowmarket building firm Haymills and its 700 employees.

The 98-year-old company has 300 workers in Suffolk but been on the brink of administration since the Royal Bank of Scotland froze its bank facility two weeks ago, stopping all outgoing payments and leaving staff unpaid.

Four takeover offers have been put on the table and the firm's administrator elect will make a decision on which will take on the ailing business by this evening.

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A spokesman for Haymills said its directors had strongly expressed their preferred option to the administrators, which would save as many staff as possible and see business continue in a similar vein, but the ultimate decision was out of their hands.

He said: “What we're looking for is a deal that includes staff and that's the most important thing that all the directors are thinking about.

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“The local support has been fantastic. That's the secret of Haymills in the region and we don't want that lost.

“We have criteria that we want to look at and at the top of that list is saving staff. I'm fairly confident that the right people will swoop in and do the right kind of deal for the right reasons.

“It's a stressful situation for everyone but the light is shining at the end of the tunnel.”

The firm owes hundreds of thousands of pounds to staff and sub-contractors but was “well within” its overdraft facility when it was frozen.

There is now growing concern that they may lose out if the rescue deal does not encompass all aspects of the Haymills Group.

The town's MP David Ruffley has leant his support to Haymills and its staff and has questioned why RBS pulled the plug on the account.

He said: “I'm desperately concerned and hope the administrator can come to an agreement in an orderly and prompt fashion to save as many jobs as possible.”

Mr Ruffley criticised RBS for not providing credit at a time of need and said he was worried about the number of companies being affected by the actions of banks that had previously been bailed out with taxpayers' money.

He added: “My concern is the general issue about what banks are doing to help businesses like Haymills.”

A spokesman for RBS said that due to strict rules governing customer confidentiality, they were unable to comment on the case.

She said: “Our lending criteria remains unchanged and each lending case is viewed on its own merit and a detailed assessment is made on the viability of each business proposition to ensure that companies taking on debt have the ability to repay.

“We are determined to support customers that need our help, but this has to be on a viable commercial basis.”

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