Long-established engineering firm in administration

By Ian Dipple Friday 14 December 2012 Updated: 17/12 14:02

A LONG-ESTABLISHED engineering firm has gone in to administration putting 19 jobs at risk.

But administrators Begbies Traynor say they are hopeful of finding a buyer for Harper and Simmons, based on Howard Road on the Park Farm Industrial Estate, which has been trading since the Second World War.

Nigel Price and John Kelly were appointed administrators on December 11 after the firm - which offers press tooling solutions to a wide range of sectors including automotive, electronic and construction - ran in to cashflow problems due to a downturn in long-term project orders.

Harper and Simmons has been operating since 1945 and has a turnover of £1.5million.

Mr Price said traditionally the company had been profitable and would continue to operate as a going concern with all staff remaining employed while they searched for a buyer.

"We are hopeful of moving things on relatively quickly, as we’ve already been talking to a number of interested parties," he said.

"The firm remains an attractive proposition as they provide high-tech solutions to some often quite complex press tooling requirements and prototype manufacturing. The business possesses a raft of expertise amongst its staff, and several employees have been with the business for a considerable number of years."

The Standard reported in February this year how the company had been given £50,000 of funding from a Worcestershire County Council backed scheme set-up to support firms unable to get funding from mainstream lenders.

Over the previous 18 months the company had seen orders double but despite at the time having £900,000 worth of business on its books it could not get finance from the banks.

Speaking at the time managing director Robert Simmons said: "We were in a loophole of expansion post recession, we are very busy and we were trying to get assistance from the high street banks but they are just not lending. We are a profitable business, well-established, no issue with the company and they wouldn’t help us."

On a recent visit to a manufacturing firm in Redditch, Prime Minister David Cameron was challenged about what the Government was doing to get banks lending to businesses.

He said the Bank of England's £80billion funding for lending scheme gave banks access to low interest money in return for lending it directly to small and medium sized businesses but he was concerned the scheme was not going fast enough or far enough.

"An economy needs banks to lend money so we have to encourage them to recover from the mess they were in, in 2008," he said.

"We are trying to get the money out of the door right now but does this need a lot of attention, yes it absolutely does."

The news comes as latest unemployment figures revealed the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance in Redditch fell for the fourth month in the row to 1,816 in November.

Anyone interested in buying Harper and Simmons should contact Nigel Price or John Fletcher on 0121 200 8150.

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