Axa, Tesco and Aegas eye alternative suppliers; Sale of social housing division speeded up

Rok’s clients in the lucrative insurance sector have already started engaging alternative suppliers as they seek to minimise the impact of the contractor’s sudden collapse.

The insurance side of Rok’s business, which supplied repair services following insurance claims, is understood to be one of the most sought-after aspects of its work.

As Building went to press, administrator Pricewaterhouse Coopers was pushing for a quick sale of its social housing division, which incorporates much of the insurance work, amid threats from clients that they would withdraw their business if a quick solution was not found. A source said: “They’ve speeded up the sale process because insurers are threatening to take their business elsewhere, and it could affect the value of the business.”

Insurance giant Axa, which in September awarded Rok a three-year, £40m deal to carry out emergency home repairs for policyholders, has already engaged alternative subcontractors for this work and is also reviewing the overall contract. A spokesperson for Axa said: “At this stage our top priority is the welfare of customers who are calling in with emergency needs.”

Last month Rok clinched a deal with Tesco Underwriting and insurer Ageas to provide building repair and claim management services to Tesco Underwriting’s home insurance customers. The deal left Rok handling half of all of Tesco’s claims work.

A spokesperson for Ageas said: “Customers with urgent requirements will be provided with alternative assistance if necessary. New claims or claims where Rok have yet to start work are also being switched to alternative suppliers.”

Outside the insurance sector, work was suspended on several other Rok contracts, including the construction of drinks giant Diageo’s £86m bottling plant in Leven, Fife.

A Diageo spokesperson said: “Rok is the civil construction contractor at our developments in Leven. As a result of Rok going into administration, work has been suspended. We are engaged in urgent talks about the next steps and looking at how we can restart work as soon as possible.”

Data provided by Barbour ABI