Sunderland businesswoman vows to fight for her firm’s future

Thompson Building Centres, Corporation Road, Sunderland
Thompson Building Centres, Corporation Road, Sunderland
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ANNE Ganley has vowed to fight to save the business she loves and protect more than 100 jobs.

The managing director of Thompson Building Centres and its sister plumbers’ merchants chain, TAPS, revealed today the company was facing “huge financial challenges.”

The company has sought advice on entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), a deal with its creditors aimed at allowing Anne to get Thompson’s back on its feet.

“We are in discussions about entering into a CVA which will mean we can continue to trade and also protect the jobs of our 110 staff,” she said.

“We are absolutely devastated by this turn of events. This is a very bitter blow, but I’ll now concentrate all my energies into making the CVA work.”

The firm had been hit by a combination of difficult trading conditions, “excessive and exceptional bank charges” and an unwillingness by Customs and Excise bosses to allow time to pay after an extremely tough winter trading period.

“I have spent the whole of my professional life trying to grow my business and to support the local economy,” she said.

“We’re the kind of company David Cameron has said is vital to help keep the economy afloat.

“I’ve said for many years that trade credit insurance and bank lending were restricting factors and a threat to many businesses – and ironically these are two of the things that have contributed to the position we are in now.

“This, combined with a zero tolerance approach by the revenue to give people an extension for a couple of months, is how a large company like ours ends up under great threat.”

Thompson’s is to close its branches in South Shields and York and concentrate on its core businesses in Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle and Durham.

“I am determined to fight in any way I can to keep Thompson’s going and ensure that the jobs of all my staff are protected,” she said.

“Although Christmas was quiet, sales have picked up in February and it is looking much more positive, which gives us the confidence that we can get through this hard time.

“Although we have had to close two sites, it is business as usual in all of our branches.”

Anne, a former Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards Entrepreneur of the year, joined the family scrap metal business straight from school at the age of 15 and is now in charge of a multimillion-pound company.

Her father, Albert, started the business 60 years ago but it was Anne who steered it in a new direction when she realised the scrap metal market was declining.

Fiercely proud of her Wearside roots, Anne has been keen to promote the company’s role in the wider community and Thompson’s was a leading supporter of the Brothers in Arms charity and its campaign to build a new memorial to Wearside’s fallen war heroes.

She was made an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for her charity work and her contribution to the builder’s merchant industry.

Anne has won numerous business awards in both her own right and for the company.

She was named Entrepreneur of the Year in the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards in 2004, Thompson Building Centres claimed the Community Award and Overall Business of the Year in 2010 and 2011 saw Anne honoured with the Outstanding Contribution to the City award.