Group building LFC Anfield Road stand extension collapses into administration

Anfield Road extension

Buckingham Group Contracting, the business building Liverpool FC’s Anfield Road stand extension, has entered administration, leading to the loss of almost 500 jobs.

The news will be a huge blow to LFC, which is still waiting to open the upper tier of the new stand which will increase the club’s capacity to 61,000.

Buckingham ceased trading and issued a notice of intention to appoint administrators on August 17.

Grant Thornton has been appointed as administrator of £700m-turnover Buckingham Group and has managed to sell its rail assets and its HS2 contract to Kier for £9.6m, rescuing around 180 jobs.

However, at the same time, they announced the axing of 446 staff after failing to find buyers for building, civil engineering, demolition, major projects and sport and leisure operations.

Mike Kempley, chairman at Buckingham Group Contracting, said: “After 36 years of uninterrupted trading, this is an extremely sad day for all the exceptionally committed and talented people who have made Buckingham Group Contracting the business it is.

“In moving to Kier, we are sure our Rail & HS2 teams are in good hands and will continue to deliver an excellent service.”

Rob Parker, Jon Roden and Kevin Coates, of Grant Thornton, were appointed as joint administrators of the employee-owned business on September 4.

Rob Parker, director at Grant Thornton, said the business was impacted by recent significant cashflow pressures and subsequent losses. He added that the directors and its advisors had tried to deliver a successful refinancing to secure the future of the business.

But he said the legacy issues faced by Buckingham Group and ongoing losses were simply too great to enable the refinance to succeed in an acceptable timescale.

He added: “The joint administrators intend to continue to operate part of the company’s head office function for a short period, in support of the purchaser, retaining around 45 employees.”

Kier chief executive, Andrew Davies, said: “We have previously stated that we would consider value accretive acquisitions in core markets where there is potential to accelerate the medium term value creation plan.

“This acquisition is one such example – it is an excellent strategic fit and accelerates our rail strategy, providing work with new rail clients and increasing our capabilities.”

In 2021 Buckingham made a pre-tax loss of £10.7m on £665m revenue. Accounts for 2022 have yet to be filed.

Liverpool FC has yet to comment, but it is understood that the club will now take control of the Anfield Road Stand construction site and work to engage a new contractor. It wil endeavour to engage as many of Buckingham’s existing subcontractors and personnel in the process.

Work on the £80m Anfield Road stand scheme was already running behind schedule and the club was only able to open the bottom tier of the structure for its opening home league game of the season against Bournemouth on August 19.

The same arrangement was in place for last Sunday’s game v Aston Villa.

The club had hoped to open the entire stand by October, but Buckingham’s administration has now ruled this out. All work stopped on the structure last month.

Last month Liverpool FC chief executive, Billy Hogan, admitted the club was now in a “holding pattern” regarding the scheme.

He confirmed that, for the foreseeable future, the club will only be able to accommodate fans in the lower tier, limiting the overall capacity to around 50,000, which is expected to cost the club millions in lost revenues.

He said: “Effectively, major work stopped on the site on Thursday morning after the announcement so clearly that impacts all of our planning.

“Timing, obviously, is incredibly fluid right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty around where we are and obviously in time that will become more clear.”