105 jobs at risk after manufacturer collapses into administration

Dozens of jobs have been lost at Doncaster manufacturer Bawtry Carbon after it collapsed into administration for the second time in five years.

The “majority” of the 105-strong workforce have already been let go after attempts to find a buyer failed in recent weeks.

Joint administrator Chris Petts from Grant Thornton said: “We have had to make the difficult decision to wind down operations whilst the next options are explored.”

The business makes carbon cathode blocks for the aluminium smelting sector at its 56-acre site in Austerfield. Bawtry Carbon generated around 90% of its £25m turnover from exports outside Europe.

It was rescued from a previous administration in 2019 when private equity fund Enact took a majority stake as it backed a management-led rescue.

In its 2022 accounts, which were signed off just eight weeks ago, the directors said “even in a reasonable worst-case scenario the directors expect that the business would have sufficient resources at its disposal to meet liabilities as the fall due”.

Chris Cormack, partner in Enact, said: “We are naturally disappointed not to have led an ultimately successful turnaround of Bawtry Carbon, which we backed through a MBO in 2019.

“Over the last four years and through our period of investment, we have been very supportive of the business committing significant capital on acquisition of the business in 2019, and injecting further capital in 2023.

“However, the macroeconomic events of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine have been felt throughout the aluminium smelting industry both by the company and its customer base.”

Chris Petts and Philip Stephenson of Grant Thornton were appointed joint administrators on Wednesday. They said they are “working closely with clients and creditors to preserve and maximise value in the work in progress”.

Petts added: “Despite the company’s niche manufacturing presence within the EU and strong customer relationships, the severe impact of recent external pressures combined with the credit failure of a key customer meant that it was not in a financial position to continue trading.”

Bawtry Carbon suffered two significant business interruptions in the kiln in 2022, which resulted in more than nine weeks of downtime. Insurers had paid out around £2m but the business disruption had continued into 2023.