An eco kitchen company caught up in the domino effect of the collapse of Connaught and Rok has been placed into administration.
Fifty-seven jobs have been lost at Wolverhampton-based Chamois Furnishings, which supplied housing associations, private developers and local authorities.
It is now in the hands of administrator Begbies Traynor in Stoke-on-Trent, which has disposed of the goodwill and customer list to an unnamed rival firm.
At its peak two years ago, Chamois Furnishings employed 140 people and was widely celebrated as a successful West Midland green company making and selling recycled timber kitchens.
But Government austerity measures have hit the social housing sector hard, and the collapse of Connaught and Rok have had a knock-on effect on small suppliers like Chamois Furnishings.
Chamois Furnishings is owed nearly £200,000 by Rok, the repair and maintenance firm which collapsed into administration threatening 3,800 jobs. It was also dealt a blow by the collapse of Rok’s rival Connaught earlier this year, which fell into financial difficulties amid harsh public sector cutbacks affecting its housing contracts.
Chamois Furnishings founder and former managing director Andrew Jones-Dutt said there were a number of reasons his once thriving business had come to a “sad end”.
“There is stagnation in the construction sector and pressure on materials,” he said.
“The action we tried to take to reduce labour costs was greatly impeded by current employment laws.
“We could not move quickly enough due to the bureaucracy.
“And the implications of the demise of Connaught destroyed confidence in the sector and I have had several small contractors go bust on me already – when it went down, it took out companies which had an effect on me. It’s like a row of dominoes.”
Mr Jones-Dutt said the squeeze on public sector finances meant the commitment by social housing providers to use environmentally-friendly products had been put on the back burner.
“Those customers involved in affordable housing sector who are carrying on with their expenditure are prepared to accept a much lower specification to reduce costs,” he said.
“Chamois is a company that’s known for our green credentials.
“But those green credentials are not a decision-maker any more.
“It’s clear helping conserve the environment is secondary to the major organisations that could make a difference.”
Mr Jones-Dutt said he was personally saddened by the collapse of his company.
“Over the last 30 years I have expanded Chamois Furnishings and my portfolio of skills around business development, manufacturing and innovative green issues has come to a sad end.
“I hope that these skills are not wasted.”
Joint administrators Bob Young and Steve Currie are handling the case for Begbies Traynor.
Mr Young said turnover at Chamois had fallen to below £3 million with the business hit hard by the reduction in housing association orders following the public spending clampdown.
“It was a good business,” said Mr Young. “With its green credentials, it ticked all the boxes. But its market disappeared.
“New build work from housing associations has mostly dried up and though it was winning refurbishment contracts that too has seen cutbacks.
“It is a classic victim of today’s tough economic times.”