Connaught jobs in the balance

JOBS at the social housing contractor Connaught hang in the balance as the company folds under the weight of its debts.

Trading in the firm’s shares was suspended on Tuesday, after it failed to secure funding to pay �220m of debt. The firm started life in 1982 as a concrete repair specialist in Sidmouth. It provides services to the environmental, social housing, public sector and compliance markets.

Around 10,000 people are employed by Connaught, with around 180 multi-million-pound social housing contracts in the UK.

Shares in the Exeter-based company have lost about 90 per cent of their value since late June.

A statement released by the firm on Tuesday said: “The board is saddened to announce that it is in the process of appointing partners from KPMG as administrators of Connaught and its subsidiary, Connaught Partnerships, which comprises its social housing division.”

However other subsidiaries including Connaught Compliance, National Britannia Holdings, Fountains Limited and Connaught Environment Limited, will continue to trade as normal.

As KPMG had not been officially appointed when the Herald got in touch, a spokesman could not say how many workers from the Sidmouth and Ottery areas could be affected.

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Connaught was one of East Devon District Council’s contractors.

A council spokesman said that they had been ‘tracking the difficulties for some weeks’ and were looking at hiring new contractors to ensure tenants had their homes maintained.

He said: “We are already getting reports of material supply problems and Connaught has acknowledged this, together with an inability to deliver the service currently. As a consequence we have served a notice under the contract, which allows us to send work to other contractors.

“We are passing urgent jobs to our other main contractor Skinners for a period and are re-prioritising work so that all urgent repairs are still done as quickly as possible.”