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Skanska to close down Richard Lees Steel Decking

Skanska said today that the future of 79 workers is in doubt as it moves to close one of the UK’s best-known steel decking supply companies.

Richard Lees Steel Decking, based in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, is set for closure in March or April next year, though a date is yet to be confirmed.

Richard Lees became part of Skanska when it acquired parent group Kvaerner Construction in 2000. The steel decking firm had worked on major projects including the Gherkin tower in London and the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.

Skanska said the Richard Lees management had been conducting a review over recent months, which had shown that the business was operating in “very challenging market conditions”.

It said there had been significant changes to the procurement route, which had become much more price-driven, resulting in significant reductions to its margins.

Skanska said it had spoken to a “couple of companies” about a sale, but had received no offers.

The contractor said: “It is regretful that Richard Lees Steel Decking employees have been advised of the intention to close the business and we have commenced consultation with employee representatives.”

Richard Lees Steel Decking managing director Richard Plant said: “It has been a difficult decision but there is no sign of the market strengthening in the near future and our current trading position is unsustainable.”

Skanska said results showed a loss over the past three years at RLSD and “therefore it is not a contributing part of Skanska UK”.

The firm has been a market leader in structural flooring products for more than 50 years. It employs 79 people, representing 2 per cent of the Skanska UK workforce, comprising 47 monthly-paid staff and 32 weekly-paid staff members.

A spokesman said it could be difficult to relocate staff within Skanska due to its location.

Skanska added: “Our priority will be to find other opportunities across other parts of the business where possible.

“Until this is complete we cannot comment on the number of redundancies as a result of the closure.

“Some 42 people are based at our main office in Ashbourne in Derbyshire. Many of our operatives are project-based across the country.”

Richard Lees installs metal decking, shear studs, precast concrete beams, precast concrete stairs and structural concrete toppings to sites throughout the UK.

It also operates three stockyards, which supply metal decking across the industry from locations in Essex, Ashbourne and Stepps in Scotland.

It will continue to supply existing stock but is not intending to produce additional decking in the future.

In addition to the 79 Skanska jobs at risk, CN recently revealed that Laing O’Rourke is set to cut 125 jobs at two Bison concrete factories due to a fall in work, after it saved the firm from administration in 2008.

O’Rourke reported yesterday that it made £4.2m on the completed Bison acquisition in the 2011/12 financial year.

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