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Stadiums blamed for Buckingham failure

17 Aug 23 Buckingham Group Contracting has ceased trading and filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators.

Craven Cottage
Craven Cottage

The company stresses that it is not currently in administration but filing notice of intent gives it 10 days to explore sale options or arrange a pre-pack deal.

In a statement, the Top 30 contractor said: “It is with immeasurable regret that the Buckingham Board has to announce that rapidly escalating contract losses and a sharp reduction in liquidity, together mean the company is unable to continue trading at this current time. We know that this will come as a shock to all our valued stakeholders.

“Very strong delivery and commercial performance across most of the business has been outweighed by deep losses and interim cash deficits incurred on the three major Stadium and Arena contracts, and a substantial earthworks contract in Coventry.

“This situation on these four long term major projects developed through a combination of unexpected impacts such as the extreme inflation linked to the Ukraine conflict and other challenges in the Sports and Leisure division.

“Over several months and right up to this week, the board has worked with specialist advisors to seek to bring substantial new investment into the business that would have enabled the company to continue trading as a going concern without interruption. However, this initiative has ultimately met without success.

“As a result of the recent challenges, the board has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators to protect the business whilst we explore a sale of all or part of the business in a very short period (days/weeks). We will be liaising with clients and interested parties to optimise any solution and secure the best outcome for creditors.

“We emphasise the company is currently not in administration. Our main aim at present is to seek to protect jobs, and to preserve as much of the business as possible.”

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Just last month managing director Ian McSeveney resigned for health reasons and was succeeded by his deputy, Simon Walkley.

It is only two years ago that founders Paul and Patricia Wheeler sold the company to the Buckingham Group Employee Ownership Trust. However, in 2021 it made a pre-tax loss of £10.7m on £665m revenue. Accounts for 2022 have yet to be filed.

The 2021 loss was attributed to a deficit of £14.2m on a single significant stadium contract – the new Riverside stand at Fulham Football Club's Craven Cottage ground – of which more than half of the loss was down to “the very significant cost impact caused by the financial failure of a major and critical subcontractor”. This supplier ultimately entered voluntary liquidation in February 2022.

Similar issues have affected Buckingham’s construction of Liverpool FC’s new £80m Anfield Road stand.

Liverpool FC issued a statement saying that Buckingham’s filing did not impact the planned opening of the new Anfield Road Stand’s lower tier this weekend for the match against AFC Bournemouth. However, the upper tier is still in development.

“Following the successful test events earlier this week, Liverpool City Council’s building control team issued a safety certificate to operate the lower tier of the Anfield Road Stand and we look forward to welcoming supporters to Anfield for our first Premier League home game of the season” the football clubs said. “We will work with Buckingham Group on the planned phased opening of the remainder of the new stand and will continue to keep supporters updated on arrangements for future games.”

The 2023 Construction Index Top 100, out with next month’s issue of the magazine, puts Buckingham Group Contracting in 30th place of the top UK construction contractors, up from 32nd last year.

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MPU
MPU

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