Haulage firm in liquidation as protests go on


TROUBLED HAULAGE group Target Express was placed in liquidation yesterday as workers continued sit-ins at some of its depots.

Target ceased trading with the loss of 398 jobs this week. Managing director Seamus McBrien claimed the Revenue Commissioners forced it out of business in a row over €175,000.

The High Court yesterday appointed Michael McAteer and Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton as provisional liquidators to College Freight, which trades as Target Express.

Jim Hamilton and Peter Doherty of BDO were appointed liquidators of Asda Properties, a holding company for the Target group’s properties.

Workers have been holding sit-in protests at Target depots in Cork and Galway in a bid to get unpaid wages due to them.

A number of workers at its Cork depot were planning to continue their protests overnight. They say that they are due two weeks’ pay from the company.

All staff working there had an initial meeting with the liquidator last night which they described as positive. A statement issued by Grant Thornton said that Mr McAteer and Mr Tennant would treat workers’ claims – including minimum notice, redundancy payments and the processing of their P45s – as a priority.

It added they were arranging to meet workers around the State today “as a matter of urgency”.

Four workers slept at the Little Island depot in Cork on the first night of the campaign, and they have put in place a rota for the coming days. Workers believe the company may still be viable, with projected earnings of more than €40 million for 2012. “We were a company that was constantly busy. We were not laying off drivers; we were taking them on,” said Tom Cullen, a father of two.

The company asked the High Court to appoint the provisional liquidators yesterday afternoon. They are due back in court on September 19th to have their appointments confirmed.

The High Court appoints provisional liquidators in situations where it believes it is necessary to do so to safeguard company assets for creditors or if there is a risk that those assets will be dissipated.

The appointment means Mr McAteer and Mr Tennant have control of the company’s assets.

Target has operations in Ireland and Britain. Its ultimate parent is based in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh. Mr McBrien and his wife are its only shareholders.

The Revenue has not commented on Mr McBrien’s claims as it cannot discuss details of individual cases in public.