Porter builders, the firm founded by the man who launched the government’s New Deal employment initiative, has ceased trading, leaving 110 staff out of work.

The Wirral-based business, which had a turnover of £18m, slipped into receivership days before Christmas. Last week, receivers Moore Stephen Booth White confirmed it had been unable to find a buyer.

Nigel Price, appointed as receiver by Porter’s bank, Allied Irish, said the company owed millions of pounds to creditors, mainly subcontractors. “A lot of people have been hit,” he said.

The firm’s boss, Ray Porter, hit the headlines in 1998 when he was chosen to appear in a television advertising campaign promoting the New Deal. An advocate of training, Porter told Building in 1998 that he intended to take on 15 apprentices under the deal, which he described as “well thought-out” and “caring”. Sources say that in the months leading up to the demise of the firm, Porter was no longer involved in its day-to-day running. Price put the demise of the firm down to thinner margins, which led to a “biggish loss” last year.

“They were doing similar work, but it was not as profitable,” he said. Price said there had been some interest shown in buying Porter Builders before the firm went under, but it did not appear to be serious. The collapse of the company has led to delays in three Liverpool school projects. However, Price was confident that these jobs would be finished by other contractors. “At least customers will get their jobs done,” he said.

Porter also hit the headlines last year when he was arrested and charged with possessing an offensive weapon after an incident near the home of one of his staff. The charges were thrown out by the Crown Prosecution Office, which said there was no case to answer.