Administrations hit another monthly record in August

An all-time monthly high of 44 firms went under in August, with more indications of a slowdown on the horizon.

Creditsafe data also shows 247 firms entered administration in the year to date, marking a 56 per cent year-on-year increase.

But this year’s highest-profile casualty – Buckingham Group – is not on this month’s list of collapsed companies. The £665m-turnover firm ceased trading on 16 August. Still, Rob Parker, Jon Roden and Kevin Coates of Grant Thornton were appointed joint administrators on 4 September, the same day Kier bought most of Buckingham’s rail assets and HS2 activities for £9.6m, saving 180 jobs. However, the company’s other activities could not be saved.

Even without Buckingham, construction administrations in August included eight firms large enough to file turnover figures with Companies House.

One example was London-based specialist Haydon Mechanical & Electrical, which worked on the 75-storey Landmark Pinnacle in London’s Docklands and the 52-storey One St George Wharf in Vauxhall. It reported a pre-tax loss of £6.2m from turnover of £66.2m in its most recent accounts, covering the year ending 31 December 2021.

Another London firm, Henley Homes, called in administrators from James Cowper Kreston and 360 Insolvency four months after its sister firm, Henley Construct, went under.

Henley Homes posted a turnover of £1.80m and a pre-tax profit of £602,600 for the year ending 31 December 2021, down from a turnover of £5.35m and pre-tax profit of £1.98m the previous year.

In the firm’s annual report, company director Tariq Usmani cited difficulties in procuring materials and labour“compounded by strong inflationary pressures on project costs”.

Andy Taylor, partner and head of restructuring at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, described a “steady flow of corporate failures” in the construction sector. This was borne out by figures released in August by the Insolvency Service, which showed that around 4,280 construction-related businesses became insolvent in the year to 30 June 2023 (an increase of 16.5 per cent compared with the previous 12-month period).