118 jobs axed as steelwork firm Robinson goes under

Aaron Morby 12 years ago
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A venture capitalist’s bid to resurrect Derby steelwork contractor Robinson & Sons has failed with the firm going into administration.

Members of the Robinson family, who founded the company in the 1950s, described it a “tragedy” as 118 jobs were axed.

The steelwork business had struggled for several years in a highly competitive market, but was thrown a lifeline last December by investment company R Capital took control.

The turn around specialist boasted a good track record after relaunching businesses like Little Chef.

It immediately cut the head count from 237 to 147, but raised hopes among the remaining staff that they were entering a new era.

Administrator KPMG said the steelwork firm’s failure to secure further orders led to severe cash flows problems.

Steve Robinson, son of company founder Sidney, has purchased subsidiary Robinson Agriculture, which makes steel farm buildings, securing 17 jobs.

The move returns the family to its agricultural beginnings where Sidney Robinson built the business repairing barns after the Second World War.

Former managing director John Robinson told the Derby Telegraph: “It’s a very sad day and I feel for the many high-calibre employees who now find themselves out of work. The company is a big part of me and it is upsetting.”

Following the banking crisis, Robinson’s business levels almost halved from £43m in 2008 to £29m in both 2009 and 2010.

In 2010, the family had considered winding down the company after suffering a big drop in orders.

Robinson said: “Last year we had the choice to wind up the company and pay off all our creditors or find a buyer. R Capital came along and were exceedingly confident of being able to turn it around.”

Will Wright. KPMG administrator, said: “In common with many in this sector, the economic environment has had an adverse impact on the order book.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it was not possible to find a solution for the whole business although we were pleased to secure a sale of the subsidiary company which preserved 17 jobs.”

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