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Hopes high buyer can be secured for Armagh concrete company

Thursday, 16 February 2017

HOPES remain high that a buyer will be found to take over Cootes (Concrete Products) Ltd in Armagh.

The news comes after the well-known concrete company went into administration last week, after almost 40 years in business.

Cootes (Concrete Products) Ltd, which is based on the Redrock Road, is now in the hands of administrators from business advisory firm BDO.

In a statement to the Ulster Gazette, joint administrators, Brian Murphy and Michael Jennings, confirmed on Monday they are reviewing the company's trading position and remain hopeful "a future sale of the business may be possible, maintaining the current level of employment".

Staff this week have spoken of their shock after this week's developments.

One employee told the Gazette: "We are all just shocked. We didn't see it coming and thought the business was doing well and the next thing the place was surrounded by security guards and administrators."

The family run company - which was established in 1978 by husband and wife team, David and Lynne Coote - employs around 18 people.

Over the years, the company has prided itself in providing high quality concrete products, including quarry stone, ready-mix concrete and cattle slats at competitive prices.

The company supplies concrete mainly around the Armagh, Newry, Craigavon and Dungannon areas.

In a High Court hearing last Tuesday, BDO insolvency experts Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy were appointed as administrators.

Gordon Best, managing director of the Quarry Products Association in Northern Ireland, told the Ulster Gazette, the latest development highlights the difficulty facing companies, particularly in rural areas.

"It's a long established company, but it highlights the market conditions within the construction industry," Mr Best said.

Describing Cootes as a small but well-established firm within the Armagh area, Mr Best admitted the announcement "does come as a surprise".

"It may reflect the state of the construction market and the competitive nature of low prices in the industry. There is a race to the bottom in the construction industry with the prices of contracts, and that is very much driving down the prices of materials."

Mr Best said concrete companies such as Cootes often lose out on payments at times when bigger contractors go bust.

County Armagh has a number of family-run concrete companies, including WJ&H Crozier near Lisnadill and Collen Brothers in Tandragee.

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