St Helens Chamber closes after falling into administration – majority of staff redundant

St Helens Chamber has appointed administrators and is to close with immediate effect, with the loss of up to 70 jobs.

The award-winning membership and training organisation has cited a ‘perfect storm’ of reductions in government funding, the move from EU funding streams to the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, difficulties in generating a surplus from its external services and the hit to its balance sheet from the nationwide fall in office values.

Jason Bell and Philip Stephenson, from Grant Thornton, today (March 14) took control of the business and will manage its affairs on behalf of creditors.

The majority of the 71 members of staff have been made redundant with immediate effect.

Discussions remain under way with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to find new training providers for 260 apprentices.

The Chamber of Commerce says it is exploring options with other providers to support the 30 young people on its own study programmes.

All students have been notified of the move and the options open to them. Clients and suppliers have also been informed.

British Chambers of Commerce is now assessing the situation to determine the best option to continue offering Chamber benefits to the St Helens business community.

A spokesperson for the Chamber said: “The Chamber has faced a perfect storm of unique funding issues and wider difficult economic conditions, which have led to a reduced demand for our tailored services.

“An unexpected and substantial drop in the value of our office building, due to a post-Covid slump in property demand, made the challenges insurmountable.

“Added to that, the move from EU funding streams to the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund had also hampered us, with significant impacts on both cashflow and profitability.”

They added: “Despite these issues, our skilled and committed staff have worked incredibly hard to continue providing services to our members and trainees, and this has been a very difficult decision to make.

“Our various stakeholders have been hugely loyal, likewise, and we are very grateful for their support.”

The administrators’ employee assistance team is now providing help to staff seeking new employment.

Tenants of the Chamber’s office building on Salisbury Street will be able to remain in occupation and building management staff are to be retained to ensure a full service to occupiers and their visitors.

In April of 2023 St Helens Chamber received The King’s Award for its ‘Fast Track’ initiative, which was launched in 2011 and has focused on providing skills development, work placements, and job opportunities. The initiative has supported roughly 240-300 young people each year (1,332 overall) since 2017.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...