Staff saddened after shock collapse of Huthwaite construction giants

Staff have spoken of their sadness after the collapse of a nationally-renowned engineering and construction company, based in Huthwaite.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 1:19 pm
The nmcn headquarters in Huthwaite, where about 80 staff worked.

Nmcn, formerly known as North Midland Construction, has gone into administration after hitting financial problems during the pandemic.

With losses growing, a rescue package failed and the board has now announced that “the company is no longer able to continue as a growing concern”, bringing to an end 75 years of trading.

The collapse is a hammer-blow to the workforce. About 80 were employed at nmcn’s headquarters at Nunn Close in Huthwaite, with hundreds more working from regional centres across the country, including about 50 at one in Annesley.

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John Homer, who resigned as nmcn's chief executive officer last September, warning that the company faced "operational challenges".

Karen Andrews, 41, who was a design leader at Huthwaite, said: “It is a very sad time. I am gutted for the company and everyone I worked with.

"It was a lovely company to work for, very people-oriented. All its history and legacy has now gone.

"I can’t say enough good things about nmcn, and I envisaged staying there until retirement.”

Karen, who lives in Rainworth, was on the verge of promotion to design manager when the bombshell news came through.

She was also nmcn’s Midlands ambassador in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), working in the local community, including schools.

"The company was willing to invest a lot of time and money into that,” said Karen. “We had just adopted a local school to mentor students, but that won’t happen now.”

Initially a family business, nmcn was founded in 1946 but grew rapidly in recent years to become one of the UK’s giants in providing core infrastructure.

The contractor worked primarily on projects in the water sector, but also operated in the highways, telecom and building markets. Customers included Virgin Media, Severn Trent, BT Openreach, EDF Energy, councils and hospitals.

Nmcn recorded turnover of £404.7 million in 2019 and, at first, appeared to have survived the impact of the pandemic, reporting pre-tax profits for the first six months of last year.

But alarm bells began to ring in September, 2020 when chief executive officer John Homer suddenly quit and warned the firm was facing “operational challenges”.

Investors were then told nmcn was expected to make a loss of up to £15 million for 2020, which led to shares plunging by 25 per cent. On top of the deficit, new projects had failed to start on time.

After forecast losses had escalated to £24 million, hopes rose when a deal was agreed with turnaround investor Svella for a re-financing of the business. But this depended on its 2020 accounts being published on time.

As shares were suspended and expected losses shot up again, to £43 million, nmcn failed to meet accounts deadlines, killing the re-financing deal and causing “significant liquidity issues”. Inevitably, administrators Grant Thornton were called in.

Nmcn’s subsidiaries are not currently affected, and will be sold as going concerns. Offers have been received from interested buyers, and proceeds will help pay off the firm’s debts. Shareholders will not receive any dividends from the process.

The nmcn board said it had “worked tirelessly” with advisers and Svella to save the firm. It thanked shareholders, customers and suppliers “for their support over the years”.

Nmcn’s demise is the biggest corporate failure in the construction sector since Carillion went bust in 2018.