Scottish firm rescues company’s property business but 500-strong Exeter builder said to have lost battle to keep going

Scottish firm Bell Group has bought the property maintenance business of stricken Midas with the 46-year-old contractor reported to have collapsed.

The Airdrie firm said tonight it had moved to snap up Mi-space and taken on 110 direct and indirect jobs.

Exeter-based Midas Group, which in its last set of accounts said it employed 500 people, has been on the brink since the end of last month when it emerged it had filed a notice of intent to appoint an administrator.


The Mi-space part of Midas has been rescued by Scottish rival Bell

At the time, it said: “This does not mean that Midas has entered into administration and the company continues to operate, while the directors work to explore all available options to achieve the best outcome for the business.”

But tonight Midas bosses are reported to have told staff earlier today that they have been unable to put together a rescue package with hundreds of jobs now set to be lost.

According to Companies House, Mi-space was set up in 2007 and in its last set of results the firm reported a £1.3m pre-tax loss on turnover of £33.6m in the 18 months to October 2020.

Mi-space’s clients across South Wales and the South-west include Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cornwall Housing Association, Bristol City Council and Exeter City Council.

Bell was set up in 1984 as a commercial painting and decorating company and has since expanded to more than 2,200 employees and a string of branches across the UK.

It has several offices across the South-west, including Plymouth and Bristol, and had planned to open a new office in Exeter.

As well as painting, Bell also carries out a whole range of property repairs such as roofing work, kitchen and bathroom replacement and energy retrofits for a range of clients across the social housing, defence, commercial, education and hotel and leisure sectors.

In its last set of accounts for the year to March 2021, the firm had a turnover of £100m, down from £109m in 2020, and a pre-tax profit of £2.5m, a fall of 22% on the £3.2m it posted the year before.

Chief executive Craig Bell said: “We are very pleased to have been able to complete this acquisition of Mi-space (UK) Ltd and to be protecting some of the jobs and a significant part of the Midas Group business.

“We look forward to welcoming the Mi-space team into Bell Group and we would also like to thank current Mi-space customers for working with us and helping us support local jobs and local supply chains.”

Midas Group was set up in 1976 but last month worries surfaced about its future after reports that work on three hotel schemes in Devon worth around £40m had stopped.

In its last set of accounts, the firm had a turnover of £291m and made a pre-tax loss of £2.4m in the 18 months to October 2020. In the 12 months to April 2019, turnover was £259m with the firm posting a pre-tax profit of £751,000.

In the 2020 accounts, the firm said its numbers had been hit by covid-19 “which significantly impacted the operational and financial performance of the group”.

Its biggest business, Midas Construction, had a turnover of £261m and a pre-tax loss of £650,000 in the 18 months to October 2020.

Filings at Companies House show that Michael Hocking stepped down as a director of the firm four days before Christmas with the 71-year-old being described as “a person with significant control” in a further filing made in the middle of January.

Hocking was made a director of Midas Group in 1998 and, along with chairman Steve Hindley, helped lead a management buy-in that year from Midas founder Len Lewis with the firm seeing revenue rise from £32m to more than £100m over the next four years thanks to a series of retail jobs.