250 jobs to go as A-Plant acquires Hewden assets

Hewden multitrackAdministrators have completed a deal to sell three divisions of crane hire specialist Hewden to UK rental business A-Plant but over 250 employees have been made redundant.

The restructuring team of EY was today appointed administrators of the Manchester-based plant hire firm after it was unable to refinance its loans.

On appointment of the administrators, a total of 251 employees were made redundant across the company’s depot and on-site locations.

The sale through Ashtead’s UK operation A-Plant is worth £29 million in cash and includes the powered access and power generation fleet, five ‘on-site’ depots which service major petrochemical customers, the Interlift lifting gear and handling business and the Hewden brand name. A total of 133 Hewden employees will also join the A-Plant business.

Sam Woodward, joint administrator of the Hewden Group, said: “Management has been attempting to operationally reshape the business to focus on higher margin and quicker returning assets and services. However, this has proven challenging with the Group’s capital structure and the recent trading environment.

“Management recently undertook a number of initiatives including approaching new funders and potential acquirers to recapitalise the business, but unfortunately these efforts proved unsuccessful.”

Woodward added: “We are assessing the optimum strategy for maximising value in the remainder of the Group.  In the meantime, we will continue to work with stakeholders to maintain service levels to customers who have assets on hire.”

A-Plant’s chief executive, Sat Dhaiwal, said the acquisition “significantly enhances” A-Plant’s offering in the industrial sector.

He added: “We are pleased to be taking over a number of important on-site depots at major petrochemical facilities and will ensure that a high level of service is maintained for all customers through the integration process. I would also like to welcome those Hewden employees who will be joining A-Plant as part of this process.”

Employees affected by redundancy are being offered appropriate advice and support in making claims from the Redundancy Payments Office for outstanding wages, as well as redundancy and notice pay.

Woodward said: “It is with regret that 251 people have been made redundant. Our specialist team will work with those affected to help them claim outstanding wages and other payments due from the Redundancy Payments Office.”

The news was described as a “sickening blow” by Unite as the union pledged to fight to secure as many jobs as possible.

Unite, which represents mainly crane operators at Hewden, said it has been in contact with the administrators over the announcement and is also in contact with other plant hire and crane operating companies to try and secure jobs for workers and ensure continuity of service for customers.

Unite national officer Bernard McAulay said: “This is a sickening blow for workers in the run up to Christmas and is the result of a succession of venture capitalists hawking Hewden around the market over a number of years to make a quick buck.

“Unite will be fighting to secure the futures of Hewden workers and supporting them in any way we can through this difficult time. We are currently in contact with the administrators over the transfer of workers to A-Plant, in addition to other crane operators and plant hire companies to try and find work for under threat Hewden workers.

“Unite will also be working closely with the administrators to ensure worker’s aren’t short changed out of their pensions and that a future for the company’s workers can be secured.”

Parties interested in acquiring assets of the Hewden are being instructed to contact the Joint Administrators. The administrators are being advised by Addleshaw Goddard.

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