Receiver to be appointed to haulage firm as staff begin protest at depot

 

A RECEIVER is to be appointed to Target Express, the haulage company that collapsed with the loss of almost 400 jobs on Monday.

Seamus McBrien, founder and director of the firm, confirmed that a receiver will be appointed in the next few days.

Meanwhile, workers at the company’s depot in Cork began a sit-in protest yesterday over outstanding pay they say they are owed. Some 17 workers at the Little Island plant said they would not release company vehicles or freight goods until their queries were met by company management.

Former employee Tom Cullen said the workers had received no contact from company management to explain the situation throughout the day. “We have kids going to school tomorrow, bills to pay – like anyone.

“We are resolute in what we are going to do. We are not moving and will not be releasing any vans or trucks from the depot until we get answers. We are hopeful this can be resolved,” he said.

In recent days, workers had paid for fuel to keep vehicles running to carry out deliveries after company credit cards were rejected, Mr Cullen said.

Spokespersons for the Departments of Finance and Enterprise said they had received phone-calls from the company.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Enterprise said that, because the firm was not an Enterprise Ireland or IDA company, Mr McBrien was advised to contact Revenue directly.

“It is unclear as yet why a profitable company had not been paying its taxes in full or did not seek to appoint an examiner that might have been able to keep the company and its staff operating as a going concern,” the department said, noting Revenue only pursues enforcement options after specific engagement with the business.

Mr McBrien reiterated his claims yesterday that the Revenue Commissioners decision not to accept a payment arrangement forced it to cease trading.

According to Mr McBrien, Revenue placed an attachment on the company’s accounts on Thursday, effectively freezing the account – wages and working capital costs could not be paid on Friday.

Mr McBrien said yesterday the outstanding debt to revenue was estimated at €500,000. He said Target Express had paid €214,000 last Monday week. In addition, it had offered to pay Revenue a further €175,000 plus four additional instalments of about €77,000 each, but Revenue had rejected this arrangement. Revenue said attachments and other options like liquidation and bankruptcy are “only used as a last resort in cases where the debt problem is serious and intractable”.

Eoin Gavin, of the Irish Road Hauliers’ Association, said the closure of Target Express was symptomatic of wider problems. He said the association had been in contact with the Government about introducing a fuel rebate.

“A lot of haulage companies are now buying fuel abroad, as rebates apply across countries. This is a significant loss of revenue to the State. The introduction of a fuel rebate would also discourage people from using laundered fuel, which is widespread.”

Accounts for the company behind Target Express show it had shareholder funds of £7.3 million at the end of 2010, and made a pretax profit of £1.9 million that year.