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Sunday 17 December 2017

More than 400 jobs in danger at troubled DIY group

Anne-Marie Walsh and Tim Healy

MORE than 400 jobs are at risk after a major DIY and building-supplies company fell victim to the property meltdown.

The future of 445 workers at Tubs and Tiles, Heat Merchants and Brooks is under threat after its parent company, BHT Group, went into examinership yesterday. It is one of the largest suppliers of building, heating, plumbing and DIY materials in the country and employs 445 people in 56 branches.

Meanwhile, a further 76 jobs are at risk at the engineering-services firm Balfour Beatty CLG, which provides services to Bord Gais networks.

The company, based in Finglas, Dublin, plans to shed the jobs at depots in Cork, Carlow, Galway and Dublin as part of a restructuring plan.


Kieran Wallace of KPMG has been appointed examiner at BHT, which has debts of €31.8m. The company, whose headquarters is in Athlone, will trade as normal while he reviews the business before reporting to the High Court.

BHT said the last Budget had led to a severe drop in spending and it had experienced the worst January sales since 2009.

Rumours about its financial troubles led to suppliers seeking recovery of stock, while concerned customers tried to get their deposits back.

The High Court heard yesterday that management restructuring plans included redundancies, pay cuts and branch closures.

An independent report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers said the businesses had a reasonable prospect of survival if the group attracted investment and held on to key customers during examinership.

The directors said an Irish venture capital fund had indicated an interest in investing in the business provided a suitable restructuring scheme was put in place during examinership.

In a statement, the directors said they sought the protection of the court due to a "a difficult trading environment" in construction and home improvement since last year.

They said they were "firmly of the view" that the appointment of an examiner has the "greatest probability" of securing jobs and long term survival of the business.

Its directors are James Weight, of Burghley Road, London and Roland Houchin, of Braintree, Essex.

The workforce of 445 is down from 1,300 in 2007.

• Less than a month after playing down any plans to reduce its business in the Republic, computer game seller GameStop is laying off 35 of its staff. The retailer employs more than 400 people across nearly 50 stores here.

The move comes barely three weeks after the retailer played down any threat to the business in the Republic following the closure of its stores in Northern Ireland.

In a statement yesterday, the company said it was rationalising its business as a result of "unsustainable losses due to a change in the economic climate and high rents".

Irish Independent

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