CONSERVATORY and greenhouse company Amdega is being closed down with the loss of almost 200 jobs.
The administration of the Darlington company, which has been in business for over 130 years, was announced by its owner, the London-based private equity firm Endless.
Administrators at KPMG are winding up the business which was bought nine months ago by Endless.
At the time the London firm said it was intending to invest substantial sums in the business which then had annual revenues of over £20m.
A spokesman for Endless said: “This is extremely disappointing. At the time of investing, we knew that a turnaround of Amdega was going to be difficult.
“We take pride in our approach to investing in turnarounds and significant time, capital and energy has been committed to the business.
“We appointed a new senior management team shortly after our investment, who all worked tirelessly and, with the workforce, achieved some significant operational improvements.
“However, due to the significant legacy issues we inherited, together with extremely difficult trading conditions, sadly on this occasion, a rescue of the company has not been possible.
“We would like to thank everyone for their efforts, commitment and professionalism over recent months.”
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman visited the factory a few weeks ago to applaud their plans for apprenticeships.
This morning she told the Gazette: “They were very, very confident that the new management would work and had a good order book, so it seems disgraceful that it has been handled in this way with no time to tell workers what was happening.
“It is dreadful news for the town, as many of the workers live locally and many were time-served craftsmen. For the company to have survived this far through the recession and then collapse is a great shock and I will be finding out how it has all happened.”
The GMB trade union said it was “an absolute scandal” that the company made the announcement with no consultation.
GMB Regional Organiser Stephen Thompkins said: “This is a company that prided itself on its heritage and its product range.
“Well these products are made by skilled workers who after all these years deserve much better.
“To treat a workforce in this way is not just callous. It’s a betrayal of the many years of hard work by the workforce to build up a so called internationally known brand name.”
Mark Firmin and Brian Green from KPMG’s Restructuring practice have been appointed as joint administrators to Amdega, which was established in 1874.
Amdega had gained a strong reputation over that time for its bespoke conservatories, orangeries, summerhouses, gazebos and pool houses which it supplied to both the consumer and hotel markets.
KPMG said there is “no prospect for a sale of the business” and it is therefore being closed with most of the 197 employees having been made redundant.
Mark Firmin said: “Amdega is a victim of the severe downturn in the big-ticket and home-related parts of the retail sector.
“KPMG’s latest Retail Sales Monitor highlighted that these businesses are being hit hardest by consumers’ lower spending patterns and Amdega was unable to sustain the ongoing weakness in demand it was experiencing.
“Amdega had approximately 300 orders on its books at the time of the administration so there will be some impact on customers. Our key priority is to assess this situation and communicate with Amdega customers. We will be writing to them as quickly as possible, with information and guidance regarding their next steps.”