NuGen Properties

Buckingham in administration; Kier saves rail team

Employee-owned Buckingham Group Contracting ceased trading on 17th August but continued to seek a way of reorganising. On 4th September 2023, Rob Parker, Jon Roden and Kevin Coates of Grant Thornton were appointed as joint administrators.

Kier has agreed to acquire substantially all of the company’s rail assets, saving 180 jobs.

But close to 500 people have been let go.

Following recent cashflow pressures and project losses – particularly on stadium jobs – the directors and their advisors have been trying to find a way to refinance the business to keep it afloat.  However, according to the administrators, the legacy issues faced by the company and ongoing losses were just too great to enable refinancing to work in an acceptable timescale.

In 2021 Buckingham made a pre-tax loss of £10.7m on £665m revenue. Accounts for 2022 have yet to be filed.

Grant Thornton director Rob Parker said: “The joint administrators are very pleased to confirm a sale of the Rail division and HS2 contract to the Kier Group, which safeguards jobs for 180 people.”

“The joint administrators intend to continue to operate part of the company’s head office function for a short period, in support of the purchaser, retaining approximately 45 employees.”

Kier Transportation managing director Joe Incutti said: “The Buckingham Group Contracting rail business had built a very strong reputation for assured delivery in the rail sector. I am pleased that we now welcome 180 new colleagues into Kier Transportation. The team will further strengthen our capability and this helps to bring an end to a period of uncertainty for clients and employees by ensuring continued delivery on existing projects, and the retention of hugely important skills and expertise in the rail sector.”

Rob Parker added: “It is, however, with regret, that despite the best efforts of the directors and the company’s advisers, a sale of the company’s remaining divisions (Building, Civil Engineering, Demolition, Major Projects and Sport & Leisure) was not possible. As a result 446 employees from these divisions together with some other central roles at the company have been made redundant following the company entering administration. The Grant Thornton team will work with the employees affected to support them through this process.”

 Mike Kempley, chairman of Buckingham Group Contracting, said: ‘’After 36 years of uninterrupted trading, this is an extremely sad day for all the exceptionally committed and talented people who have made Buckingham Group Contracting the business it is. In moving to Kier, we are sure our Rail & HS2 teams are in good hands and will continue to deliver an excellent service, and many other businesses are now engaging with the remaining 500 or so Buckingham employees. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the clients and supply chain businesses who have supported the company over many years.’’

Kier was reported to have been in talks last year to buy Tilbury Douglas from the banks that own it but walked away. Kier Group chief executive Andrew Davies said today: “We have previously stated that we would consider value accretive acquisitions in core markets where there is potential to accelerate the medium-term value creation plan. This acquisition is one such example – it is an excellent strategic fit and accelerates our rail strategy, providing work with new rail clients and increasing our capabilities. I am delighted to welcome our new employees, clients and suppliers to Kier.”

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