Leaked emails reveal chaos of final day of trading at failed construction firm

Staff at failed Edwinstowe construction firm Robert Woodhead had less than six hours to prepare themselves for redundancy, according to internal emails seen by TheBusinessDesk.com.

Robert Woodhead called in administrators late last week, but not before emailing staff in the middle of the morning of Wednesday September 14 outlining a consultation period as the company struggled with rising prices and low growth.

The email read: “You will undoubtedly appreciate that over the past few months it has become noticeable that our cash reserves in the Group are diminishing, impacting on our viability.

“Due to the reasons above, we believe it is necessary to commence a formal consultation with employees of Robert Woodhead Limited relating to employee redundancies.

“During the consultative period the company will look at alternative options to redundancy in addition to listening to any viable options, including voluntary redundancy put forward to potentially reduce the number of compulsory redundancies at this time.”

The message added: “The company will continue to consult with all employees over the coming days until which point it has made preliminary decisions of the final options available. At this point the company will, if deemed necessary, commence individual consultation. You will appreciate that due to the company’s size and administrative resources this period of consultation will be short due to the very imminent need to restructure.”

However, less than four hours later, some staff received a letter confirming that they were being made redundant with immediate effect.

The letter said: “Further to our earlier consultation today regarding the company’s precarious financial position the directors have concluded, following expert, professional advice, that the company can no longer continue to trade and that steps must be taken immediately for it to cease to trade in order to mitigate any further loss. Consequently, arrangements are being made to instigate a formal insolvency procedure; to place the company into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.

“The company is no longer in a position to pay you for the services rendered under your contract of employment. I am therefore writing to inform you, by reason of the company’s insolvency, your employment with the above company is terminated with immediate effect.”

It has also emerged that Robert Woodhead held meetings with staff on June 27 and August 11 of this year, where senior management shared its trading difficulties.

Tyrone Courtman and Deviesh Raikundalia of RSM UK Restructuring Advisory were officially appointed last Friday (September 16) with a view to placing the company into voluntary liquidation.

A statement from RSM UK Restructuring Advisory said: “We understand that the board acted on the advice of its accountants. The board having received expert restructuring and insolvency advice confirming that the company was insolvent, that its business was no longer viable and that immediate steps ought to be taken to enable it to cease to trade to mitigate the accrual of further trading losses and to avoid the incurrence of further losses to the company’s creditors. Appropriate steps will also be taken for the company to be placed into a formal insolvency procedure; Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.

 “We understand the company no longer had the means to pay the employees for the services rendered under their contract of employment and that it was unable to meet the whole of the payroll falling due to its employees on Thursday 15 September 2022. As a consequence of which, we understand the board, conscious of their consultation obligations, had little practical choice but to make the majority of the company’s staff redundant with immediate effect. There was no meaningful alternative.

“RSM UK Restructuring Advisory was subsequently engaged to assist the board with the necessary formalities to place the company into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.”

Established in 1946, Woodhead operated across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire and employed over 150 people – the vast majority of whom have been made redundant.

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