Hundreds of jobs have been lost following the collapse of a Fife-based joinery and shop-fitting firm.
Havelock International in Kirkcaldy has fallen into administration – with joint administrators David Baxendale and Zelf Hussain of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) concluding it was not possible to continue operating the business while a buyer was sought.
Almost 250 employees, the majority of the workforce, have now been made redundant.
Mr Baxendale said: “The company has faced a challenging trading environment for some time and the directors have concluded that there is no longer any reasonable prospect for the company to continue to trade.
“Prior to our appointment, we explored ways that the business might continue to operate whilst a buyer was sought.
“However, regrettably this has not proved possible and it has therefore been necessary to make 247 employees redundant with immediate effect.”
PwC said that a small number of employees had been retained to assist the joint administrators in “managing the activities of the business to an orderly closure and maximising realisations for the company’s creditors”.
It added that the administrators would work with employees, clients and suppliers to “facilitate a smooth and effective wind-down”.
PwC said it would ensure all employees “are assisted in processing their redundancy claims as a priority”.
The firm was rescued by an investor last year after being bought out of administration.
There were fears over the future of the company after staff were called to a mass meeting on Wednesday.
They were told to report back the following morning, when it was hoped more information would be available.
On Wednesday, union GMB Scotland claimed an unpaid bill by a contractor had been the main cause of the financial problems.
However, Robertson – a key contractor on the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) hotel and spa fit-out – denied the claims and said it had made early payments to Havelock.
A spokesperson from Robertson said: “As is standard in construction contracts there is an agreement on the works undertaken and the payment structure around this.
“We cannot be held to ransom by demands for monies which have not been verified and agreed.
“We do not normally comment on rumour or allegations, but we strongly refute the allegation that Robertson is in anyway responsible for the demise of Havelock International.”
GMB Scotland now claim that owner Rcapital, a private investment firm, has “a lot to answer to because they have literally just walked away” from saving the the company.
Rcapital has been contacted for comment.
Following the announcement of the job losses, GMB Scotland organiser Allison Cairns said: “The anger of workers at today’s announcement from Havelock is entirely justified.
“There are serious questions to be answered as to how the company was allowed to get to this point without the workforce being warned or consulted.
“The plain fact is that this factory does not need to close. There is a quality product here for a buyer willing to make this business work.
“The consequences if a suitable buyer cannot be found will be simply dire for Fife, for what remains of Scottish manufacturing and worst of all for the 250 people employed here, some of whom will have worked here for a lifetime, all of whom are now faced with being left with nothing.
“GMB Scotland will do everything in our power to support and assist our members at this time.”
SNP MSP David Torrance said: “I am extremely disappointed by the news of such a major employer within my constituency going into administration.
“My thoughts are with all the workforce and their families, on whom this news will have a devastating impact.
“The company has been a significant employer in the town for many years and the impact of its loss will be considerable.”
He said he has written to Scottish business minister Jamie Hepburn urging the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise to “provide all possible support to allow the company to continue trading”.
He added: “If this is not possible, any assistance they can give to ensure that a buyer is found and Havelock continue to be a large employer in Kirkcaldy is imperative.”
Fife councillor Altany Craik, convener of the Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning and Transportation Committee, said: “This is obviously a huge disappointment to Fife as another big business goes under.
“Our thoughts are particularly with all those families affected by these expected job losses.
“It’s a devastating blow for the employees and our employability team is ready to help with advice and support and we continue to work with PACE, Opportunities Fife Partnership and Scottish Enterprise to try to minimise the impact of this closure as much as possible.
“We will continue to do what we can to attract businesses and investment into Fife.”