Main business Lilley Construction sold as going concern after Cheshire-based parent group runs out of money.
Cheshire-based construction group Sunley Turriff has gone into administration and is in talks to sell its individual businesses and contracts.

The group, which employs 400 people and has a turnover in excess of £100m, called in administrator Ernst & Young last Wednesday.

A statement from E&Y said that the entire share capital of Lilley, the group's £45m-turnover construction arm, has been sold as a going concern. This deal has secured the jobs of 260 employees and protected the position of its creditors.

Simon Allport, a partner in E&Y's corporate restructuring team in Manchester, said Sunley Turriff operated in a very competitive sector and, despite winning several large contracts, its margins had been very low.

He said: "This has resulted in unsustainable pressure on the company's working capital, leaving the directors with no choice but to request the appointment of administrators."

Allport said he was delighted to have achieved the sale of Lilley, which has secured the jobs of more than half the group's employees. He said: "We are now assessing the position of the remaining companies and reviewing contracts with the aim of achieving further sales."

He added that he had received substantial interest in contracts and businesses, and that negotiations had commenced.

There was unsustainable pressure on the company’s working capital

Simon Allport, Ernst & Young

The Sunley Turriff group is carrying out a number of major contracts including a landmark contract to redevelop the Hackney Empire theatre in east London.

The group recorded a £3.8m loss in its accounts for the year to December 2001, compared with a £552,000 profit in 2000. Former chief executive Alan Barton is understood to have been on sick leave since last November.

The Sunley Turriff Group includes Broomhall Joinery, Farho Developments and international business Bernard Sunley & Sons.

The group has been in financial difficulties for some time, and it was bought by turn-around specialist the Alchemy Group three years ago.