Specialists call for payment security after Enfield-based firm calls in administrators

Specialist groundworks contractor Mann Construction has become the latest casualty of the financial crisis, after calling in administrators early on Monday morning.

The Enfield-based specialist and engineer, whose turnover in 2007 was £67m, was involved in a number of schemes, including the £8.5m Quadrant housing project in south London and the £5m University of Hertfordshire development. Mann was working as subcontractor on projects for Willmott Dixon, Morgan Ashurst and Higgins Construction.

Several firms had already raised concerns about the business and its payment record, according to credit reference agency Top Service. Emma Bridges, director of Top Service, said: “This hasn’t come as a shock. We’ve been monitoring it quite closely. We have tracked more than 15 late payments at Mann Construction during the past two years.”

Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group, said the firm’s liquidation highlighted the need for an amendment to the Construction Act, which was due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

He said: “We want the payee to request a payer to produce adequate security for payment, such as a bond guarantee or a payment bond. Failure to provide this would be indicative of a firm’s inability to pay and would give the payee the right to suspend the contract.

“If this amendment were in place, this firm wouldn’t have been able to carry on.”

Credit ratings agency Experian said Mann Construction’s late payments had been well above the industry average, with the firm paying 41 days beyond term. This compares with the industry average of 29 days beyond term.

A spokesperson for Mann Construction confirmed it had called in administrators.