Construction and maintenance group Connaught's fall from grace this year has been as sudden as it has been surprising.
Less than a year ago, the firm announced healthy results for the 12 months to 31 August 2009, with turnover up a fifth to £660m, and pre-tax profit up 39% to £42.5m.
Revenue at is social housing business Connaught Partnerships, where most of the current problems seem to be centred, grew 18% to £528m, while its operating profit rose 22% to £31.2m.
Chairman Mark Tincknell said at the time: “Connaught has maintained a clear focus on its goal of building a sustainable business and... is in good shape to deliver consistent and sustained earnings growth for many years to come.”
That statement now appears either to have been full of false optimism, or an attempt to mask deeper problems, after today's news that three of the group's companies have been placed in administration.
The first signs of any trouble occurred at the end of January, when chief executive Mark Davies left the company, to be replaced by long-standing Connaught servant Tincknell.
Since then, the tale of woe has grown and grown.
28 June: Connaught issues a profit warning, and its shares fall by one third, wiping out £150m of its value
27 July: The Financial Services Authority announces a probe into the company, following the suspicious share dealings
7 September: Connaught's shares are suspended, and the firm calls in administrators KPMG
The future now looks uncertain for the group, and for the 9,000 employees who work for the Connaught subidiary companies currently in administration.