The managing director of one of Birmingham’s oldest manufacturers has blamed the downturn in the construction sector after the administrators were called into his business.
Bill Goode, who has run Thomas Walker PLC since last June, said sales had fallen by more than two-thirds due to the downturn in the property sector.
The company would have needed in excess of £750,000 to ride out problems but the banks were unwilling to provide that level of financial support.
“There has been a serious drop in the stampings side of the business,” he said. “We have suffered around a 70 per cent fall in orders as we are very much affected by the construction sector.
“We actually have lots more customers but they are ordering much fewer volumes. We had looked at restructuring to get to a level that we could operate but the costs were prohibitive.”
He said he had drawn up a rescue for the company but had been unable to provide sufficient evidence to the banks on potential future sales and in the end they were only prepared to provide less than a third of the necessary support.
“They are banks and I suppose they have to look out for themselves,” he said. “The trouble is that once it starts raining you don’t go out and buy an umbrella. There were lots of nice words but in the end they wouldn’t deal with us.”
Based in Kings Norton, Thomas Walker is best-known as a manufacturer of zips, buttons, waistband fastenings, buckles for belts, surgical fittings and machinery used by tailors and dates back to 1867.
Its two subsidiaries are Thomas Walker (UK) Ltd and TW Stamping Ltd – a hot forging company that produces a range of products for machining, gas fittings and electrical components.
A total of 34 workers have already been made redundant, 12 at Thomas Walker UK Ltd, 17 at TW Stamping Ltd and five at Thomas Walker PLC. Dozens more jobs are under threat although the workers still at the company are working on behalf of the administrators.
Kim Rayment, business restructuring partner at BDO Stoy Hayward, who has been appointed administrator, said: “As a manufacturing business, the major subsidiary of Thomas Walker has faced significant challenges as a result of falling sales and a tough economic climate.
“We are now assessing the possibility of securing a going concern sale of some or all of the business.”
Mr Goode said he was “gutted, very sad and frustrated” by what had happened to the company but was confident that it still had a future although it was likely to be in a “break up scenario”.
Having bought 40,000 shares in the company when he joined last year, Mr Goode said he was also significantly out of pocket following the company’s demise as well as out of a job.
He said: “It certainly wasn’t one of my more lucrative employments or adventures.”