Up to 200 jobs in the under pressure construction sector are under threat after it was announced that four companies within the Lagan Construction Group are to be placed in administration.
Group chairman Michael Lagan said parts of the business had been significantly impacted by issues such as delays in the starting of new projects, protracted contractual disputes on some existing major projects and instability caused by a joint venture partner in Great Britain.
The business is one of the lead partners on the ambitious new Ulster University campus in Belfast which has faced several delays (see story right).
“It is with great sadness and reluctance that we have had to take this course of action,” Mr Lagan said.
“We have had long standing relationships with many of sub-contractors and suppliers.
“We hope that the process of administration will be smooth and that disruption to both projects and jobs will be minimal”.
The group currently empploys 1,000 people and comprises 30 companies.
The four firms involved in the administration process are: Lagan Construction Group Holdings Limited, Lagan Construction Group Limited, Lagan Building Contractors Limited and Lagan Water Limited.
The firm said it hoped that some of the jobs under threat could be transferred to joint venture partners whilst others may be relocated to existing divisions within the Group.
Lagan Group which is run by Michael Lagan’s brother Kevin is unaffected.
It continues to trade normally and is currently the subject of a possible buyout by the GB based contruction and materials group Breedon Aggregates.
A statement from industry body the Construction Employers Federation said the news was “extremely regrettable” given the firms’ huge contribution to Northern Ireland’s economy and society over many years.
“They have been a pillar of our construction industry for decades and it is our express hope that a solution can be found.
“As the Federation has long said, the industry has faced a challenging period in respect of its sustainability.
“From issues related to low margins on works, to insufficient pipelines of activity, to the current political and budgetary challenges within Northern Ireland, there are significant tests which go much beyond today’s news.
“These must be matters of concern to anyone who wishes to see a healthy and vibrant Northern Irish construction industry given its critical role in delivering jobs, economic development and growth.”