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Van Elle ‘shifting the blame’ to Carillion, warns ex-boss

Former Van Elle boss Michael Ellis has claimed that the firm’s management is ‘shifting the blame’ to Carillion following the announcement of a £1.6m exposure to the contractor’s collapse.

The specialist ground engineering firm told the stock market yesterday morning it had £1.6m in outstanding debt and work-in-progress with Carillion.

The subcontractor said this was connected to work carried out in December and January.

Van Elle’s order book for the coming financial year included expected work from Carillion, bringing the total anticipated revenue from the failed contractor to £2.5m.

Speaking to Construction News, Mr Ellis, who is Van Elle’s founder and largest shareholder, said he believed the current management had neglected to follow procedure.

“I’m disappointed that Van Elle are exposed,” he said.

“The business had procedures in place to prevent this happening which look like they’ve been ignored; it’s bad management on behalf of Van Elle, which is nothing new.

“I’ve been concerned about the management over a lot of things and this just proves the point.”

Commenting more generally on Carillion’s collapse, Mr Ellis said he feared it would dissuade graduates from choosing a career in construction.

“It affects such a lot of people, it’s a sad day for the construction industry,” he said.

“It doesn’t give it a good name, we’re short of people and graduates aren’t going to join when they see things like this.”

In November, Mr Ellis launched a bid to regain control of Van Elle.

He used a stock market filing to call for a general meeting of the board, as well as the removal of then-chief executive Jon Fenton and senior independent director Robin Williams.

The board responded by urging shareholders to reject its founder’s proposals, and claimed that he had “failed to accept that Van Elle is no longer a private family business”.

Van Elle has been contacted for comment.

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