More than a thousand jobs are now at risk as Hewden, the heavy machinery company, faces collapse.
The firm, owned by Sun Capital Partners, has now been forced to call in administrators after failing in a bid to find a new backer.
Hundreds of workers are now facing redundancy at 32 sites across the country.
Its pension scheme is also set to go into special measures introduced by the government. The scheme is poised to go into the Pension Protection Fund, which pays more than 200,000 savers’ final salary pensions after the collapse of their employer.
The expected collapse follows an eleventh hour bid by Hewden to find new investors as it struggled with debt repayments.
However, it looks as if time has run out for Hewden, which needed backers to refinance £190 million worth of debt.
Hewden has been working alongside company restructuring experts at Deloitte who were looking either at refinancing the firm, or finding a buyer.
However, discussions with potential investors have not been fruitful. Alchemy Partners, which specialises in investing, through debt and equity, in distressed and underperforming businesses, was said to be considering a purchase but is understood not to be pursuing a deal.
The Manchester-headquartered firm made a pre-tax loss of £16.6 million on sales of £105.9 million, according to latest accounts, for the 12-months up until the end of 2014. There were costs of £2.2 million, which were said to have been accrued as a result of “severance, depot closure costs and other restructuring”. It also paid £8.9 million in interest payments during that year.
Hewden is one of Britain’s biggest heavy machinery firms, renting out equipment such as cranes and excavators, for major projects.
However, it has blamed Brexit for difficult trading conditions. The firm said that its clients were not going ahead with projects, or scaling down, because of uncertainty following the June referendum.
Last month, Hewden said: “The vote has adversely affected a number of large construction and capital investment projects.”
However, it may be that the firm does still manage to find a buyer after going into administration.
Hewden has been under Sun European ownership for six years. The parent company, which specialises in investing in troubled companies, paid £110 million for the business, which had previously belonged to the Canadian company Finning.
An announcement about Hewden’s administration is set to be made next week.