Small firms across the region are set to incur major financial impacts following the demise of construction group Tolent.
Some have already been forced to shed staff in the wake of the £197m turnover firm’s collapse into administration on Monday. Speaking to BusinessLive, Gareth Hutchinson, director of County Durham-based bricklaying contractor High Rise Brickwork Ltd, said his firm had been working on multiple contracts for Tolent and had been forced to let 35 people go.
He said: “We’ve done projects for Tolent over the last three years which they owe us retention for, and which we’ll never see, and that’s never mind mortar bills and we were supplying them with forklift drivers, as well as the labour side of the brickwork that we’ve done.
“The majority of our guys were on their site so we had to let a lot of them go on Friday. Luckily we’ve got a contractor in Hardwick Homes who’ve got our backs covered. They’ve been very generous in making sure we’re right.”
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Mr Hutchinson said High Rise, which was set up in 2017, stood to lose more than £100,000 following Tolent’s collapse and said his firm was fortunate that it would not become insolvent itself.
He added: “There are ground workers out there, other bricklaying contractors and many more who will be affected. Fingers crossed for them all to be honest. It’s testing times at the moment. It just goes to show that nothing is really safe – even a company of Tolent’s size which had been going for 40 years, you wouldn’t really expect it.”
Other suppliers took to social media following the news. Weston Malone, managing director of Gosforth-based mechanical engineering firm H Malone & Sons Ltd, said: “Terrible news in the North East construction industry recently with the loss of Tolent and Metnor. Our thoughts are with all the staff at these companies who are facing uncertain times ahead and their supply chains who will obviously be affected.
“Tolent have been a particularly good client of ours, we have delivered a number of high profile schemes together over many years and have got to know their people very well. Really sad to see it end this way for them. Although we have been affected we take it on the chin and move on, we have a strong order book with some fantastic clients who have been in touch to check on us and offer their support.”
And Helen Geggie, an employee of design engineering firm Baileygomm Ltd, which operates Hertfordshire and North East offices, wrote: “Absolutely devastating news today about Tolent Construction. Baileygomm have enjoyed a 23+ year working relationship with Tolent and are deeply saddened for our own site team and all the associated support staff.
“We will continue to use Tolent’s regular supply chain to fulfil our project requirements and hope that our support helps everyone out, even if it’s just a tiny bit.”
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