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27 July, 2006 - 14:08 By Staff Reporter

Landlord lock-out frustrates administrators for Cambridge building firm

A Cambridgeshire building company, which would have celebrated its 50th anniversary next year, has lapsed into administration, with the loss of 44 jobs.

Bernard Ward has been placed into administration - handled by KPMG - after experiencing a "severe cash flow problem," and the subsequent collapse of a financing deal.

The total level of debt is unclear at this time, but Business Weekly understands that unsecured creditors' claims are expected to total a cool£2.6m. It is highly unlikely that these claims will be met, beyond the “possibility” of a “small dividend.”

The documents we have seen indicate that the Peterborough and Cambridge based firm was owed £2m, but it is estimated that at best it will only realise £588k of its book debts and at worst, £144k. Only £43k has been received so far.

Most of Bernard Ward's chattel assets, with the exception of two vehicles from its large fleet of vans and trucks, were leased closing this as an avenue for realisations. Both premises were also leased.

The company's last audited results, for the year ended March 2004, showed turnover of £15.51m and profit of £310k. Nothing more up-to-date was available.

All of the company's workforce of 44 was made redundant last month, with even the skeleton crew retained to assist the administration now laid off.

The administrators said their initial aim was to rescue the business as a going concern, but a closer inspection revealed that this would be impossible. KPMG now plans to rescue as much from the remains of the company as is possible before winding it up. The administrators' fees so far total almost £39k.

A number of telling references in the documents Business Weekly has seen reveal that the administrators have been forced to earn their fees in this particular case.

The joint administrators, Jane Moriarty and James Money have been barred access from Bernard Ward's Cambridge operation by the landlord of the building, reportedly for non-payment of rent and say they are: “still in negotiation with the landlord to recover any company assets and records held at the premises.”

Also, the directors have been asked to resubmit their statement of affairs, due to what is described as “a number of omissions.”

An initial creditors meeting, seeking approval to extend the administration through to June 2007, has been scheduled for August 4 in Cambridge.

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