Examiner for building supply firm

 

An interim examiner has been appointed to the group operating the Brooks, Heat Merchants and Tubs and Tiles businesses from 59 stores across the country employing 445 people.

Management restructuring proposals for the group include redundancies and branch closures, the High Court was told today.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern granted an application by James Doherty, for BHT Group Ltd, to appoint Kieran Wallace of KPMG as interim examiner to the companies.

The group has debts of €31.8 million, including €21.8 million to unsecured trade creditors.

The directors of the group said they believe the companies have a viable future post-restructuring based on the fundamental strengths of their businesses.

The companies had sales of €129 million in 2011 with Heat Merchants accounting for €62 million, Brooks €56 million and Tubs and Tiles €11 million. The workforce of 445 is down from a high of 1,300 in 2007.

A difficult trading environment in the construction and home improvement sectors during 2011 and at the start of 2012 had led to the application for court protection, they said.

Rumours about the group also led in recent days to suppliers seeking recovery of stock from company premises and concerned customers seeking to recover deposits, the court heard.

An independent accountant’s report by William G O’Riordan of Pricewaterhouse Coopers expressed the view the companies have a reasonable prospect of survival in whole or in part, provided certain conditions are met, including procuring investment, retaining key customers during examinership and continued provision of sufficient working capital facilities from Burdale Financial Group.

An Irish venture capital fund has indicated an interest in investing in the business provided a suitable restructuring scheme could be effected during examinership, the directors said.

Other expressions of interest in some or all of the parts of the business had also been received.

Management believe there is further scope to reduce costs and restructure the businesses, the court heard.

The petition stated the group incurred a loss in 2009 of €85.2 million, after which it implemented cost-cutting measures. In 2010, it incurred a loss of €6.1 million and in 2011 a loss of €0.4 million.

The directors said the group incurred a loss in 2009 of €85.2 million after which it implemented cost cutting measures.