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Tue May 21 2024

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Osborne seeks saviour as it prepares for administration

19 Apr Construction group Geoffrey Osborne has filed a notice of intent to appoint an administrator.

Geoffrey Osborne Ltd, represented by Macfarlanes LLP, filed a notice of intent to appoint an administrator with the courts on 18th April 2024.

Osborned has already sold three of its divisions in recent years since the covid pandemic arrived and is in negotations about further disposals.

Osborne’s accounts are overdue. Its latest filed accounts are for the year to September 2021. A year ago it extended its accounting period, changing the year-end to end of March.

Its last accounts show turnover of £326m (down from £551m) and a £44m pre-tax loss on continuing operations.

In September 2021 Osborne sold its civil engineering division to London private equity firm Sullivan Street. It is now called Octavius.

In March 2023 it sold its panel manufacturing business, Innovaré, to Bowmer & Kirkland.

In September 2023 it sold its housing maintenance division to newly formed Cardo.

Accounts have yet to be filed showing the impact of these disposals.

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Osborne was founded in 1966 in Chichester by civil engineer Geoffrey Osborne. It remains in the ownership of the Osborne.

Chairman Andrew Osborne said that while the move towards administration was a last resort, ”it is now the right thing to do while we continue to seek external investment”.

In a statement the company said: “The decision was reached after an 18-month programme to restructure the firm to focus on the core construction business and following an extensive effort to secure new investment into the business.

“The company with its advisors are currently working with interested parties with the ambition that aspects of the business will be sold and will continue to trade. Negotiations are ongoing. To support this process all staff will be paid up to the date the administrators are appointed.

“Osborne has faced significant headwinds common to the entire construction over the past two years, fuelled by high inflation, the lingering impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit, and a slowdown in public sector procurement. Despite these challenges, Osborne has maintained strong relationships with suppliers, contractors and staff, while delivering for customers.

“To address this under-performance and protect the underlying construction business Osborne has sold its property management division, infrastructure business and offsite manufacturing arm securing the employment of over 850 jobs. The proceeds of all three sales have been reinvested into the construction business, which has continued to deliver projects in London and the southeast.

“Regrettably despite a substantive improvement in performance the residual losses on legacy projects have undermined performance which has impacted on the ability to win new work. Despite the management team ensuring the current business is profitable with a good pipeline of work the business has struggled to secure the necessary investment to continue as a going concern."

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