145 jobs to go as AD engineering firm enters administration

At least 145 workers have lost their jobs as one of Ireland’s largest anaerobic digestion engineering firms enters administration.

Mallusk-based William Industrial Services (WIS) was established in 1983 and went on to become one of Ireland’s largest providers of environmental engineering solutions. The firm specialised in water-treatment and anaerobic digestion technology.

Stephen Cave from PwC in Belfast and Toby Underwood have been appointed joint administrators.

From farm-scale to industrial

WIS offered anaerobic digestion plants from farm scale (100kW to 500kW) to much larger industrial plants, up to 10MW in size.

Its projects included Granville Ecopark, a 4.8MW food waste fuelled plant in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.

The site became the first in the UK to be awarded industry accreditation earlier this month and is also the largest AD plant on the island.

The firm also built incineration plants for burning residual waste to produce electrical and heat energy and offered solutions for landfill gas – including the gathering, treatment and processing of landfill gas to produce electricity and heat.

Success

The company appeared to be successful and had won several high-profile awards – including the Deloitte ‘Best Managed Company’ award for two years in a row and the UTV Business Eye award for ‘Fast Growth Business of the Year’.

The firm employs around 145 people directly and has annual turnover which peaked at around £50 million (€56.6 million).

Tot Technical NI Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WIS – which employs around 15 people and trades from adjacent premises – is set to go into liquidation.

Around half the company’s sales of water treatment and anaerobic digestion solutions are to customers outside Northern Ireland, primarily in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Cash flow issues

PwC’s Stephen Cave said: “The company ran into a number of commercial issues on some of its key contracts in recent months, culminating in contractual disputes which had a significant and adverse impact on trading cash flow.

Despite endeavours to resolve the matters and secure a way forward, the company ran out of funds – leaving the directors facing the decision to enter administration.

“Whilst we are urgently reviewing the company’s financial and trading position, we have unfortunately had to make the majority of the workforce redundant with immediate effect.”

South Antrim Democratic Unionist MP Paul Girvan added: “This is another devastating blow to local families and to the local economy of south Antrim. Williams Industrial Services is a long-established and highly-respected manufacturing firm, and news of their going into administration is a huge shock.”