PLUMBING companies, Heat Merchants and Tubs and Tiles, went into liquidation yesterday and were then sold to heating and plumbing suppliers Harleston in a move that will secure 220 jobs. The future of 11 Brooks builders' provider outlets remains unclear.
Heat Merchants and Tubs and Tiles, which are profitable and supply building materials to consumers and the trade, were placed into examinership in February before going into liquidation yesterday.
Liquidator Kieran Wallace of KMPG then sold the companies to Harleston for an undisclosed sum. They had been owned by the BHT Group, which is owned by English-based directors.
Thirty-two of the 36 Heat Merchants' retail outlets were acquired as part of the transaction along with seven of the co-located Tubs and Tiles outlets and five standalone Tubs and Tiles outlets. The acquired operations will continue to trade and operate as normal.
Eleven Brooks builders' provider outlets will close on Monday but are expected to re-open on Tuesday. Directors for the company said a further statement on the remaining Brooks' business was "expected in the near term".
Harleston, which bought the companies for its Hevac unit, was established in 1974 by another company before a management buy-out in 1988.
"The acquisition of these businesses is welcome for several reasons," said Hevac managing director Seamus English. "In effect, it saves and recapitalises two well-positioned businesses which have been stressed for some time because of an onerous debt burden."
Customers who have deposits with Heat Merchants or Tubs and Tiles will have their deposits honoured by the new owners.
Liquidator Kieran Wallace said the transaction "secures a substantial number of jobs and puts both Heat Merchants and Tubs and Tiles on a more secure and viable footing". In February, the High Court was told that BHT Group had debts of €31.8m, including €21.8m to unsecured trade creditors.