Jobs saved as historic Sheffield manufacturer goes under

A historic Sheffield manufacturer has collapsed into administration with the loss of 17 jobs - but 24 employees were saved after a division was sold to a private investor for £100,000.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 5:08 pm
A CNC operator at Birley Manufacturing.

Birley Manufacturing went under after suffering a cash crunch.

But administrators at KPMG had lined up a buyer for the joinery division.

Matthew Diskin acquired 24 staff, stock, the order book and the right to remain in the premises on Birley Vale Road for four weeks.

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A purchaser continues to be sought for the metalwork division. Eight staff have been retained to complete outstanding work but 17 have been made redundant in a move that will be a huge blow so close to Christmas.

And if a buyer can’t be found administrators are looking to sell assets, wind down operations and sack the remaining staff.

Debts have not been disclosed but creditors are urged to get in touch with KPMG.

Birley, established in 1875, made interiors for shops, schools, health centres and trains. According to its website clients included Waitrose, Barclays, M&S and Bombardier.

Last December the firm made 17 redundant with bosses blaming a downturn on the high street. At the time directors said they were confident they could ensure stability into 2019.

But in July the firm’s accountant contacted KPMG and it was hired in October. Officials tried to sell the two divisions and a marketing drive led to more than 10 interested parties, including the eventual buyer Matthew Diskin.

But Birley needed cash for raw materials and with the company insolvent, a sale of the joinery department was arranged for after it had collapsed. Such a ‘pre-pack’ sale allows a buyer to pick up a firm minus its debts. The move saves jobs but has been criticised for leaving creditors out of pocket.

Howard Smith, joint administrator, said: “The sale of the joinery division secures a future for the businesses operations in Sheffield and protects a number of jobs. The focus is on securing a sale of the metalwork assets.”