People who have reserved homes on a new housing estate have been urged to wait for information after its developer went bust.
Scottish house-builder Stewart Milne Group, which is building the Astbury Place development on Back Lane, Congleton, as well as homes on Padgbury Lane, appointed administrators from Teneo after a buyer could not be found.
In administration are Stewart Milne Homes North West England Limited, Stewart Milne Homes Central Scotland Limited, Stewart Milne Central Scotland (Developments) Limited, Stewart Milne (Arbroath) Limited, Stewart Milne Homes (Auchterarder) Limited and Stewart Milne Homes (Kirkton) Limited.
The companies ceased trading with immediate effect and no further construction is being completed.
More than 200 jobs have been lost and hundreds more in its supply chain are jeopardised.
In its last annual report, the company reported turnover of £172m but an operating loss of £34m, £300,000 after exceptional items were removed, although its operating profit from operations was £7m. It had a credit facility of £114m and £15m in cash.
Joint administrator Adele MacLeod, of Teneo, said: “The downturn in the UK housing market combined with an extensive sales process not resulting in any viable offers has ultimately led to the need for the directors to place Stewart Milne Group and some of its subsidiaries into administration, regretfully with some immediate redundancies.
“We continue to assess all the options in respect of the group’s Scottish development sites and encourage any party with an interest to get in touch.”
Founder and chairman Stewart Milne, (73), tried to sell the business in 2022 so that he could retire. He had founded the firm in 1975. Ernst & Young was appointed financial adviser but failed to find a buyer. Milne had already sold its timber frame division for £48m in 2021 to reduce its debt. Other options to restructure the group were ultimately deemed to be not viable.
Mr Milne said in a statement: “I am devastated by this totally unexpected outcome of the sale process and struggling to accept it, given the profound impact it will have on employees, sub-contractors, suppliers and customers.
“Stewart Milne Group was up for sale and, following significant interest, two bids were submitted. The bank has not accepted either bid and withdrawn its funding.
“I tried everything I could to find a way to achieve a better outcome for the business and the people who depend on it. I believe one of the bids could have delivered a comparable, financial return to administration and, crucially, allowed the business to continue to operate, safe-guarding hundreds of jobs and protecting livelihoods.”
The Teneo administrators said: “Following their appointment, the joint administrators will focus on realising the group’s assets and pursuing an orderly wind down of the business, retaining 54 employees to assist with managing this process. An additional 58 employees aligned with the operations of Stewart Milne Homes North West England (Developments) Limited have been retained.
“Regretfully, this means that 217 roles were made redundant shortly following the administrators’ appointment.”
A message on the company website said that the administrators would shortly be contacting all known customers with reservations, creditors, suppliers, subcontractors and hired plant/equipment providers.
Anyone who has reserved a Stewart Milne property and has not yet moved in will be contacted directly. Immediate queries can be emailed to email@example.com.
Anyone who lives in a Stewart Milne property and has a query with regards outstanding works, should email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
No further work will be undertaken by subcontractors and site access should not be attempted unless approved by the administrators. Subcontractors who require site access should contact email@example.com.
All other supplier queries should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.