Glimmer of hope for Hartlepool business Yuill Homes as administrators confident of buyer

David Mullins
David Mullins

ONE of Hartlepool’s best known companies has gone into administration - but the experts behind the process say they’re confident of finding a buyer.

Less than 24 hours after the Hartlepool Mail revealed that Yuill Homes had gone into administration, news emerged that potential buyers had already shown an interest in taking over the 87-year-old firm.

The Hartlepool house builders, based at Hartlepool Marina, will keep on trading while a search for a buyer goes on. In the meantime, all 50 staff will be kept on.

A spokesman for chartered accountants and business advisors Baker Tilly, which is handling the administration, said: “The staff have been retained and the business is being actively marketed, and already attracting interest from potential buyers.

“Although we can not make guarantees, we are very hopeful of being able to rescue the business.”

David Mullins, managing director at Yuill Homes, said: “The last five years have seen some of the toughest market conditions in the industry and we have done everything possible to avoid this route. However the financial economic climate has left us with little alternative.

“That said, we are hopeful that from this process there will be an emerging business that continues to build on a successful brand that has been in the North East housing market for over 85 years.”

Steven Ross and Ian Kings, from chartered accountants and business advisors Baker Tilly, have been appointed joint administrators, as first revealed on the Mail website yesterday.

Mr Ross, a restructuring and recovery partner at Baker Tilly, said: “Yuill Homes is a well-known brand in the North East housing market but, due to the high level of debt finance, was placed into administration to protect the value of its assets for the benefit of creditors.

“The company will continue to trade while we seek a buyer for the business on a going concern basis.”

He said the immediate priority was “to speak with employees, suppliers and other stakeholders as well as those people who are in the process of buying a new home from the company.”

The news comes at a time when the housebuilding market in the UK seemed to be on firmer ground.

Goverment statistics released yesterday showed the numbers of new houses being built were up 23 per cent in 2013 to reach a six-year high of 122,590.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This Government is fixing the broken housing market we inherited in 2010.

“Last year we built the most homes since 2007, and even the appalling weather conditions this winter have not stopped our hardy builders from getting the job done.

“That means an increase in small firms benefiting from the surge in construction orders, and more business confidence in the economy.”

But Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing and homelessness charity Shelter, said: “What these figures really show is that we are building less than half of the 250,000 homes needed each year just to keep up with demand.

In a separate piece of news, also released yesterday, mortgage lenders reported their strongest January since 2008.

Around £15.5 billion worth of mortgages were handed out last month, a figure which has surged by one third compared with January 2013 when £11.6 billion worth of home loans were advanced, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

CML chief economist Bob Pannell said: “Housing market indicators in the UK continue to be positive.”

The Hartlepool housebuilding firm, which was originally established in 1927, was purchased by Cecil M Yuill Limited in 1993. It is currently working on a single development site in Brierton Lane in Hartlepool and also owns a number of other sites for future development.

The firm first operated from its base of more than 40 years at Cecil House in Loyalty Road.

But in 2011, Cecil House was demolished and cleared to make way for a housing development.

The firm then moved to Hartlepool Marina where it took over all four floors of the 14,700 sq ft Tranquility House which used to be the home of Garlands Call Centre. The move was hailed as “the start of a bright new era” for Yuill Homes.

But now, Yuill Homes has appointed joint administrators.

Any enquiries from interested parties should be directed to Steven Brown at Baker Tilly on (0191) 511 5000.