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Uncertain future for 80 local BHT staff

Story by Adrian Cusack

Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012 5:33pm

There is uncertainty over the future of more than 80 local jobs after the Athlone-based building supplies firm BHT was placed in examinership last week.

On Thursday last the High Court approved the appointment of an interim examiner - Kieran Wallace of KPMG - to the BHT group which operates Tubs and Tiles, Heatmerchants and Brooks.

The group has its head office, along with a Heatmerchants branch, on the Moydrum Road in Athlone. There is also a Tubs and Tiles branch on the Dublin Road.

The company will continue to trade as normal during the period of examinership, but its longer-term future is less clear.

The High Court was informed last week that management restructuring proposals for the group include redundancies and branch closures.

A spokesperson for BHT told the Westmeath Independent that no decision had been taken as yet on the future of individual branches.

The High Court gave the examiner 100 days in which to come up with a 'scheme of arrangement' for dealing with the company's creditors. It was reported in the national media that the BHT Group has debts of €31.8 million, including €21.8 million to unsecured trade creditors.

In a statement issued to media, the directors of BHT Group Ltd said: "A difficult trading environment in the construction and home improvement sectors during 2011 and at the start of 2012 has compelled the directors to seek the protection of the court under the examinership process.

The BHT group employs a total of 445 people. It operates 56 stores nationwide, along with its head office and network support base in Athlone.

"The directors of the BHT Group Limited are firmly of the view that the appointment of an examiner to review and report on the group's businesses, while allowing a period of time to try to ensure the survival of the company under the protection of the court, has the greatest probability of securing the long term survival of the group's businesses and the jobs of our employees."