Brims Construction hopes to save around 150 jobs in moves to rescue the Teesside operations of beleagured building contractor Tolent.
The Sunderland company is working with the former chairman and founder of Tolent, John Wood, to bring some of the collapsed firm’s sites back into action, just over a week after administrators were called into to the Team Valley business. The business, which had bases in Teesside Industrial Estate, Thornaby, and Shotton Colliery in County Durham, appointed Interpath Advisory on February 13 with the immediate loss of 313 jobs, citing big losses on the £85.5m Milburngate development in Durham for sparking the chain of events that led to its demise.
The plan will see Tolent’s previous Teesside management team re-employed by Brims, along with staff, operatives and members of the supply chain, whose aim will be to ensure minimum disruption to clients. Some sites already returned to work last Monday. Brims will not be taking on responsibility for reimbursing any of Tolent’s creditors.
Read more: Metnor Construction collapses into administration with all 80 jobs lost
Brims, which has 90 site and office staff, was established 16 years ago by Ian Clift, Jason Wood and Richard Wood. All were previously employed by Tolent, which was founded by John Wood – Jason and Richard’s father. Consequently, they know the Teesside staff and business operation particularly well.
Despite the obstacles thrown in their way by Tolent’s current legal and financial situation, director Richard Wood said the Brims team has visited all the current projects and talked to clients. He said that Brims had been looking to expand further south and open an office in Teesside but had not envisaged it happening this way.
He said:“Following the announcement on February 13 that Tolent had gone into administration with the loss of 350 jobs, we took action immediately as it is a company very close to our hearts. My father set Tolent up, but Ian, Jason and I all trained and worked there, with John only retiring three years ago as chairman.
“Its unfortunate demise has provided an opportunity for the future expansion of Brims and at the same time, we are hopeful of providing secure employment for up to 150 employees moving forward.
“The former Tolent sites will be re-badged as Brims Construction and our sole aim is to save jobs with the minimum of disruption to clients. We have spent the last few days talking to clients and reassuring them that their projects will proceed as normal, with the people they have previously been dealing with. We are confident we can minimise any job losses by quickly stepping in this way.”
Tolent’s Teesside office was working on a mix of commercial projects including a rolling programme of petro-chemical maintenance works. In total the value of the ongoing work is estimated to be around £15-£20m.
Mr Wood continued: “Several clients have already recognised our new proposal is simply to provide them with the same group skillset of people but with a stronger company behind them. We have already received new orders for work, which helps save the previous workforce, for which we are all extremely grateful. We are currently dealing with the administrator, in order to buy the Tolent Teesside office building at Thornaby and it is very much our intention to put firm roots down in Teesside.”
John Wood founded Tolent in 1983 and by the time he retired in 2019, turnover was around £180m.
He added: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to offer my help with these proposals, especially with Brims being central to it. It keeps the construction heritage alive under the Brims name and it will hopefully salvage some of the work that Tolent was previously involved with. We are confident that we will save as many site and supply chain jobs as we can and I would encourage all existing management and site staff to feel encouraged at what we are doing.
“It is great news for the region. We just want to save the jobs and get work back on track.”
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