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Sat December 07 2019

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High Street woes bring down Simons Group

30 Oct Lincoln-based construction firm Simons Group has gone into administration, with the decline of the high street retail sector a significant contributing factor.

Executive chairman Paul Hodgkinson
Executive chairman Paul Hodgkinson

Simons Group Limited, Simons Construction Limited, Simons Design Limited and Simons Development Limited have entered administration. Simons Estates Limited will be placed into liquidation.

Nathan Jones and John Lowe of specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory were appointed joint administrators on 29th October 2019.

The Simons Group is a well-established, development and design business, based in Lincoln and owned by the Hodgkinson family. The £100m-turnover business has been in operation for more than 70 years, with the retail sector a major component of its commercial construction client base.

Simons’ customer base includes retailers Boots, M&S, Fenwick and Primark as well as grocers Morrisons and Waitrose.

The administrators said that they planned to implement “an orderly wind down of the construction business”.

This means job losses in the days ahead among the workforce of 124, although some staff will be retained to assist with the wind down of the business and efforts to transfer existing contracts to alternative contractors.

 Joint administrator Nathan Jones said: “After a period of challenging trading and contract delays resulted in unsustainable cashflow difficulties, the directors of Simons Group were left with no choice but to enter the business into administration.

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 “Our initial focus will now be on working to ensure that any live contracts are transferred across to new contractors with minimal disruption. We will also be working closely with the Redundancy Payments Service to support all affected employees at what we know will be a difficult time.

“We will be looking to market some elements of the business for sale and encourage any interested parties to make contract with the administrators without delay.”

Simons Group’s latest accounts show a £704,000 pre-tax profit on turnover of £104.4m for the year to March 2018 but contained some ominous warnings.

In the 2018 annual report, executive chairman Paul Hodgkinson talked of challenging times. “Our core customer group saw their retail market changing very dramatically, with high street department stores and stand-alone shops seeing sales reduce and shifting to 24-hour on-line procurement as a preferred way of shopping. We expect this trend to continue.”

Mr Hodgkinson wrote: “Whilst we saw customers finishing off big retail schemes or building out projects where they were contractually committed, any projects that could be delayed, mothballed or sold were; and with that our workload which looked healthy in 2017 did not deliver the expected activity.”

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