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Hewlett up for sale as administrators try to save 300 jobs

Administrators to one of the UK’s largest private civil engineering firms Hewlett are trying to sell the company in a bid to save 300 jobs.

Paul Bates and Graham Newton, from advisory firm BDO, were appointed as joint administrators over Hewlett Civil Engineering, Hewlett Rail, Hewlett Plant Hire and Portford Homes.

BDO said none of the 300-strong staff have been made redundant immediately.

Mr Bates said: “At the moment we are conducting a thorough appraisal of the companies to determine whether it is viable for the companies to continue to trade during the administration process.

“We are also assessing the potential for a sale of all or some of the companies on a going concern basis.”

Hewlett hit financial difficulties as a result of the challenging economic climate over the past few years, BDO said.

Turnover has fallen from about £62m in 2009 to about £42m in 2012.

“Regrettably, this has meant that the companies are unable to continue to trade in their current form,” the administrator said.

Founded in 1987, the companies undertake civil engineering for commercial projects and construction related training in the following sectors: highways, defence, rail, residential, renewals, power and process.

The companies operate from a head office in Leeds, two additional regional offices, a further two training sites and third party contractor sites.

Emma Miller, director at credit firm Top Service, said: “A sudden increase in reports of non payment from our customers towards the end of the last year resulted in us monitoring the company carefully. Unfortunately the administration has come of no surprise to us.”

Top Service said it had 49 reports of non-payment from 18 different customers in relation to the Hewlett group. There are four outstanding county court judgements totaling £48,815, including one major CCJ at around £47,000.

It said turnover for the year to 31 March 2012 was £37.8m with a £0.7m pre-tax profit.

The firm had recently expanded operations into the Middle East and has an office in Muscat, Oman.

Latest accounts said lack of funding, widespread lack of confidence and spending cuts have continued to suppress the sector.

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