Staff take to LinkedIn to look for new jobs

One of the country’s best-known regional contractors is facing an uncertain future after staff and subcontractors reported being sent home on Friday.

The Gateshead-based firm was set up in 1983 and according to its latest set of accounts employed close to 470 people in 2021.

No official comment has been made by Tolent with the firm posting on its website as recently as last Wednesday that it had “launched a new service to help support registered providers of social housing improve the energy efficiency of homes across the region”.


Turnover hit a record £198m in 2021 at Tolent

But staff have taken to LinkedIn to say they are looking for new jobs.

One site manager wrote: “[I’m] looking for a new role and would appreciate your support. After 15+ years at Tolent through good and bad I’m heartbroken for everyone in this situation.” And a general foreman added: “17 wonderful years with Tolent.” The director of one Durham-based firm said it “will be facing a huge financial loss” as a result of any collapse.

Staff were reportedly called in for a meeting this morning to be given an update on the business, which in 2021 posted an improved turnover of £198m.

Tolent has been working on the Milburngate project in Durham, which will bring a host of bars, hotels, office space and apartments to the city.

It is also working on a £40m housing project for the new Vaux neighbourhood at Riverside Sunderland and the £50m Brett Wharf housing site in Gateshead.

In its last set of accounts filed at Companies House, Tolent said it racked up a £4.4m pre-tax loss in 2021 which was narrowed from the £8.5m loss it posted in 2020.

In those accounts, Tolent said it had been hit by the collapse of several developers and subcontractors with the firm saying that it was owed £2.1m by developer High Street Group – which sank into administration just before Christmas 2021. The developer was behind Newcastle’s tallest tower, Hadrian’s Tower, which was built by Tolent.

The firm said its numbers had also continued to be hit by the pandemic and an unnamed loss-making contract. But revenue in 2021 hit a record £198m, up from £185m last time.

The firm parted company with chief executive Andy McLeod in October 2021 who was replaced by company veteran Paul Webster, then its COO.