Austin White has gone into administration, a victim of the deteriorating housing market and adverse exchange rates.
Gary Lee and Paul Stanley from the Manchester offices of Begbies Traynor were appointed joint administrators for the housewares supplier on Monday this week.
Begbies Traynor senior manager Dean Watson told HousewaresLive.net that the administrators were “trading the company while we try to find a buyer. It’s very early stages. There are interested parties but we don’t want to build any hopes up unnecessarily.”
In a statement released today, Austin White managing director Geoff Hounslea said the business had been affected by a number of factors.
“The company has been hit by the weakness of the pound against the Euro and the dollar, increases in transport costs and a slowdown in one of our key markets.
“Additionally the disruption and costs associated with the flooding of our premises last year did nothing to help a worsening financial situation. Sadly, and despite the commitment of our staff, we can no longer continue trading,” he said.
The problems being experienced in the housing market have had the greatest effect on the company’s performance.
A strategic move earlier this year into Austin White branded products went some way to counter the reduced orders coming from this area, but, according to Hounslea: “The die was cast by then. It was already an uphill struggle made worse by the exchange rates.”
The statement went on to say that the administrators are exploring all avenues, including selling the company as a going concern.
All staff – thought to be around a dozen – were made redundant on Monday although the company is still trading in administration with the help of some of the Austin White personnel.
“We’ve retained a small team of four, including Geoff, just to keep the show on the road while we try to find a buyer,” said Watson.