Exclusive: firm buys Dunne Group’s plant and equipment and takes on the majority of its staff

Brendan Kerr

Demolition specialist Keltbray has completed its purchase of a number of Dunne Group’s assets, Building has learned.

The contractor is understood to have finalised the deal to acquire some of the Scottish-based firm’s plant and machinery and taken on the majority of Dunne’s former 524 staff in a deal completed yesterday evening.

Building said last month that Keltbray was planning to buy parts of Dunne Group after the firm entered administration, revealing that the contractor was in talks with Dunne Group’s administrator FRP Advisory.

One source close to the deal said the firm has purchased basically “everything apart from existing contracts”.

The purchase takes Keltbray into the reinforced concrete market for the first time, building on its core demolition business and more recent forays into piling and rail services.

A source told Building that Keltbray, which is headed up by Brendan Kerr (pictured), had already started bidding for concrete work this week.

Speaking before the deal was completed, one client said the deal would be a “good fit” and added: “I think clients will welcome this if Keltbray does it and it enables them to start building concrete basements – it would be a good addition to their services.”

In a statement, Keltbray said: “This purchase includes the former yard and head office for the group at Bathgate in Scotland, as well as plant used for the construction of reinforced concrete structures. Keltbray sees this as an opportunity to broaden its capability and services portfolio, widen its geographical reach and to respond to market demands.”

Tom MacLennan, partner at FRP Advisory and joint administrator to Dunne Group, commented: “We are delighted to have agreed a deal with Keltbray Group, and wish the company every success with their future plans. 

“We have been delighted with the response of the contracting industry to the administration of the Dunne Group, and estimate that since our appointment over 400 former staff have now found new employment.”

Around 60 firms had expressed interest in buying parts of the Dunne Group business although Keltbray was thought to be the most serious suitor, with the rest understood to be interested in only piecemeal parts.

One of those is contractor Mace who has hired directly “elements” of Dunne Group’s workforce and purchased materials and hire plant equipment via the administrators that were already on site at its residential project, Highpoint, in south London’s Elephant & Castle.

A spokesperson for Mace said: “An element of downtime was experienced to site operations however all cranes were working and material deliveries recommenced quickly”.

Dunne entered administration after requesting that its bank Santander appoint administrators on its behalf after a request to the bank for additional funding was not met.

A document at lodged at Companies House reveals a loan granted by Santander to Dunne in October 2014 gave the bank security in the form of a floating charge “over the whole of [Dunne Group’s] undertaking and assets”, giving it security if Dunne Group became insolvent