Up to 350 jobs to go in Antrim as two major employers close

Engineering firm collapses while mulitnational says it will shut plant

The collapse of a major engineering firm and a decision by one of the North's largest inward investors to shut its plant is likely to deal Co Antrim a massive jobs blow with up to 350 redundancies on the cards.

Administrators have been appointed to one of the North’s top environmental companies based in Mallusk and have immediately made the majority of its previously 145 strong workforce redundant.

Stephen Cave from PwC in Belfast and Toby Underwood were appointed joint administrators of Williams Industrial Services (WIS) Limited on Tuesday.

The award winning company, which had been in business since 1983, worked across a number of different sectors specialising in environment engineering solutions, in water-treatment and anaerobic digestion technologies.

About half of the company's sales were to markets outside of the North, chiefly Britain and the Republic.

WIS had an annual turnover previously of about £50 million and had successfully delivered more than £500 million worth of engineering projects.

‘Deep regret’

John Toner, chairman of WIS, said its directors had "explored all possible rescue options" but had with "deep regret" been forced to place the company in administration.

A wholly owned subsidiary of WIS – Tot Technical NI Limited – which employs 15 people is also set to go into liquidation.

Stephen Cave from PWC said the company had run into “a number of commercial issues on some of its key contracts in recent months, culminating in contractual disputes which had a significant and adverse impact on trading cashflow”.

Mr Cave added: “Despite endeavours to resolve the matters and secure a way forward, the company ran out of funds, leaving the directors facing the decision to enter administration.

‘Immediate effect’

“Whilst we are urgently reviewing the company’s financial and trading position, we have unfortunately had to make the majority of the workforce redundant with immediate effect.”

Meanwhile the oilfield service group Schlumberger has rejected a rescue proposal for its plant in Co Antrim and intends to proceed with plans to close the factory with the loss of 205 jobs.

The trade union Unite said Schlumberger had dismissed a proposal by local management that would have safeguarded the future of its Newtownabbey plant and its workforce.

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite's regional officer, said the group informed union representatives that the rescue proposal was not successful.

She has accused them of remaining "intent on offshoring production to low cost centres in Mexico and China and back to the United States".