John Sisk sanctioned by UK officials for failing to pay suppliers on time

Irish builder’s ability to win future British state building contracts now in jeopardy

Sisk   said it was ‘disappointed’ to be removed from the list. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sisk said it was ‘disappointed’ to be removed from the list. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The UK division of John Sisk & Son builders has been kicked off a British government register of contractors for failing to pay its suppliers in time, putting its ability to win future British state building contracts in jeopardy.

Sisk, whose headquarters is in Dublin, was the only construction company removed from the Prompt Payment Code (PPC), a list of approved companies that is maintained on behalf of the UK government.

Companies listed on the PPC must promise to pay 95 per cent of all their suppliers within 60 days, and large companies must report their adherence to this standards. The scheme was introduced during the last major UK downturn in 2008, as smaller companies complained to the British government that they were having major difficulty getting paid for contracts.

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), which operates the PPC scheme on behalf of the British government, this week published a “name and shame” list of companies that had breached their commitments in the first three months of this year.

‘Disappointed’

Sisk said it was “disappointed” to be removed from the list and promised to “work hard” to meet its PPC commitments in future.

CICM said the PPC’s compliance board had been in contact with Sisk since it was ejected from the list and said it had received an “action plan” from the Irish builder. This could lead to it being relisted.

Twelve businesses, including six construction firms, were suspended over their treatment of suppliers, but were not removed from the PPC list because they have already committed to bring themselves back in line. Laing O’Rourke, founded by UK-based Leitrim man Ray O’Rourke, was among this cohort.

Five companies, including Sisk, were kicked off the list altogether for breaching their commitments and for having no plan at the time to bring themselves back in line. The other four companies removed were all non-builders, including courier group DHL and the Twinings tea business.

A UK government website that allows the public to check how promptly reporting companies pay their suppliers has several reports on Sisk. One report, published in January and covering the final three months of 2018, said 59 per cent of the builder’s invoices were “not paid within agreed terms”.

Damage

Sisk has a large operation in the United Kingdom, where its revenues in 2017 were £188.4 million (€219 million). A large chunk of its business comes from state projects, with past projects such as the Battersea Cats and Dogs home and a transport interchange at Manchester Airport.

Removal from the PPC will seriously damage Sisk’s ability to win public business in future, unless it is reinstated Last month, according to UK building trade media, the UK government’s Cabinet Office wrote to major contractors warning that unless the 95 per cent with 60 days threshold was met, bidders could be excluded from all contracts over £5 million (€5.8 million).