Administrator says firm unlikely to be sold as founder blames Pembroke project for collapse

CJ Haughey Construction, the groundworks specialist that collapsed into administration last week, is unlikely to be sold, leaving creditors millions of pounds out of pocket.

The company owes between £4.5m and £6.5m to creditors, according to Martin Coyne of accountancy firm Poppleton & Appleby, which was appointed administrator on 10 December.

Coyne played down hopes of recouping much of the cash, admitting that trying to sell the firm, which had a £25m turnover for the year to 28 February 2009, was “a non-starter”.

“Most of the main contractors [that CJ Haughey was working with] have made their own arrangements already,” he said. “At best, we may have some retentions to go at, but that will be £2m at most.”

CJ Haughey admitted the £21m civil engineering package it won on the new power station in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, had proved a “bridge too far”.

Chris Haughey, who founded the company in 1999 at the age of 22, said: “Our targets were in hindsight probably too ambitious and a project of the magnitude of Pembrokeshire combined with the economic downturn proved too much and has unfortunately spelled the end of the company.”

Sisk, the main civils contractor on the Pembroke site, awarded the contract to CJ Haughey. It is understood it has yet to decide who will take on the work.

In a statement, CJ Haughey said its descent into administration had led to 250 job losses, although Poppleton & Appleby confirmed that the construction arm only employs 35 people directly. The CJ Haughey Group, which employs the other staff as subcontractors is not in administration.

Top Service, the credit and debt recovery agency for the construction sector, said CJ Haughey’s payments to its creditors had been slowing for the past three months.

“In recent weeks we have collected in excess of £100,000 [from CJ Haughey] on behalf of our customers,” it said.