Jobs go at Marsden Quarry after Owen Pugh collapse

Workers at a South Tyneside quarry have lost their jobs after the collapse of a North East civil engineering firm.

Monday, 30th October 2017, 2:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:53 am
Owen Pugh's Marsden Quarry site

Owen Pugh went into administration earlier this month, with the immediate loss of more than 250 jobs.

The prospects for 30 people employed at the firm’s Marsden Quarry site in Whitburn had initially looked more positive, with administrators Grant Thornton confirming that the group’s Owen Pugh Aggregates arm, which operates the quarry, had attracted ‘a significant amount of interest from potential purchasers.’

“The Joint Administrators can confirm that Owen Pugh Aggregates, which operates Marsden Quarry near Sunderland, continues to be maintained whilst a buyer is sought,” said a spokesman.

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“All 30 employees at the Owen Pugh Aggregates site have been retained and are working with the Joint Administrators to help effect a going concern sale,” they said.

“To date, we have received a significant amount of interest from potential purchasers.”

But the administrators have now confirmed some workers from the site have been told they are no longer required.

And the remaining staff face an anxious wait their week as the efforts to find a buyer for the business continue.

“The Joint Administrators can confirm that nine redundancies have been made at Owen Pugh Aggregates, which operates Marsden Quarry near Sunderland,” said a spokesman.

“The Joint Administrators continue to negotiate with interested parties to help effect a going concern sale, and have set a deadline for bids of 5pm this Friday.”

One worker who had lost his job contacted the Gazette to say it was the quarry’s lorry drivers whose posts had been axed.

“They retained 30 of us, hoping to get a buyer, and they have had a massive amount of interest,” he said.

The administrators had done everything possible to protect jobs at the quarry: “They went round various customers we had been supplying to and asked them to pay money that they owned because they were on 90-day contact terms,” he said.

“They managed to get enough money in to pay the wages but they have now run out of money to pay the full amount of staff.”

Administrators blamed the state of the Owen Pugh group’s civil engineering arm for its collapse.

Administration, in turn, had triggered clauses which allowed key customers to cancel their contracts with the firm, with a knock-on effect on the viability of its plant hire and drain services businesses.