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. . . and it's goodbye from


CLADDING firm Schmidlin was the highest-profile casualty of a torrid year for curtain wallers after low margins and loss-making jobs sent the Swiss-owned firm crashing into administration back in March.

Schmidlin's UK division - the cladding contractor on a host of iconic projects including London's Gherkin - was eventually rescued by German fit-out firm Lindner in April.

Falling margins and rising costs also did for curtain waller CAP Aluminium in November, but this time no white knight emerged to save the business and 140 staff lost their jobs.

Among the main contractors to bite the dust this year was Dew Pitchmastic, whose chairman Hugh Grayson called in receivers in May when an attempt to tackle the firm's ballooning pension deficit with a trade sale collapsed at the last minute. Another famous name to go was Botes Building which took down sister company HN Edwards with it.

Meanwhile administrators at BDO Stoy Hayward had their work cut out at diverse plant group Thornycroft (1862) - by far the most intriguing failure of 2006.

BDO were called in after the death of founder Andy Ross - uncovering missing plant, debts of at least £8 million, and having to work their way through a labyrinth of complex transactions between the group's various subsidiaries. The biggest job casualties were at Colchester hirer Cadman Contracts, which was wound up.

Other notable failures in a rocky year for the sector were family-owned Glasgow contractor Peter Walker - costing 350 jobs - and Durham drylining outfit M&M Plasline. AIMlisted groundworks contractor Greenfield also failed in November, crippled by the slowing of the UK housing market.