Scottish homebuilder enters provisional liquidation

Homebuilder JS Crawford Contracts (Borders) Limited has gone into provisional liquidation, following a delay to completion of a development in Melrose in the Scottish Borders.

Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden from Interpath Advisory were appointed on 7 February to handle affairs at the business.

JS Crawford, a family-run firm, was founded in 1946 and employed 23 staff at its Melrose base. In its most recent total exemption accounts for the year ending 31 March 2022, the business recorded £299,672 in total assets less current liabilities, down from £388,767 in the 2020/21 financial year. It owed creditors £237,725 after more than one year.

The firm took on more bank debt in 2021/22 with loans totalling £104,154 as of 31 March 2022, compared with £7,500 the year before.

In a statement on 9 February, Interpath confirmed that all staff had lost their jobs, adding: “We will endeavour to provide any and all support to those workers impacted by redundancy during this difficult time.”

Michael Crawford, sole director of JS Crawford, said provisional liquidation was “something I had been desperately trying to avoid and had hoped that the company could trade out, but unfortunately, the necessary backing from suppliers and funders was not there”.

Interpath noted that JS Crawford “had recently experienced significant financial pressures arising from challenges on a construction contract”. This was the Westgrove housing development on the outskirts of Melrose, where the company was building 14 two-bedroom flats for over-55s.

“Over the past year, additional and unsustainable interest charges combined with rampant cost inflation has resulted in a significant loss on the project,” noted Crawford.

McAlinden said: “Persistent strong headwinds, including cost inflation, tight margins and labour shortages, are continuing to impact companies across the housebuilding and wider construction industry and, unfortunately, in the case of JS Crawford, they were too difficult to overcome.”

Larger Scottish housebuilders have also experienced difficulties. Stewart Milne Group entered administration last month, soon after Cruden announced plans to scale back its contracting work.

These events prompted Jane Wood, chief executive of lobbying organisation Homes for Scotland to warn: “We are slightly concerned we’ll see more of this.”

She added that Scottish SME housebuilders are struggling with upfront costs, and called for support from the devolved Scottish government.

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