Whyte enters administration
Scottish crane rental company Whyte Crane Services has appointed an administrator, and ceased trading. The company operated from two locations, Aberdeen and Grangemouth, wiht a fleet of around 25 cranes.
The 38 employees were informed last Friday when the formal paperwork was submitted. Insolvency practitioner Interpath Advisory was appointed on Friday, with the administration formally coming into effect this week. The individual administrators are Richard John Harrison of the Leeds office and Geoffrey Isaac Jacobs based in Glasgow.
Whyte had also failed to file its accounts for the period to the end of June 2021 and was listed for striking off. The company was listed as the 26th largest crane rental company in the 2021 Cranes & Access Top 30 UK/Ireland rental companies with 25 cranes. This is the fourth major UK crane rental bankruptcy this year - with three of them - M&M
ceasing trading and between them taking around 70 cranes out of the market, barring those that are acquired by other UK crane companies.
Whyte Crane Services was set up in July 2019 and eventually took over the activities of Whyte Crane Hire, which went into administration in February 2020 and for which a liquidator was appointed earlier this year. (See:Whyte Crane Hire in Administration)
The ultimate ownership of the crane business remained in the Whyte family, with Lawrence Whyte the lead director of both companies. The 2020 accounts - filed a short time after the new company took over the crane operations - shows the company had assets of £16.7 million with a tangible net worth of £904,000 and £4.25 million of working capital.
A statement from the administrators
is as follows:
"The company expanded its trading activities in early 2020 but was significantly impacted by the onset of the first Covid-19 lockdown. Despite government support, with its asset base subject to significant finance arrangements, further lockdowns and significant competition in the market, the company could not service its commitments. Despite attempts made by the director to exit unprofitable contracts and reduce its overheads, trading losses continued and in recent months, the position deteriorated such that the director determined trading should cease."
"The business ceased to trade prior to the appointment of the joint administrators."
Geoff Jacobs, managing director at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator added: “Since our appointment, our focus has been to provide support to the workforce through the redundancy process, as well as safeguarding the company’s plant and equipment; and arranging for the safe return of financed cranes to the appropriate providers. In the days ahead, we will also be seeking to market the company’s website, its well known name and customer book, together with realising all other assets. We would encourage any interested parties to come forward as soon as possible.”
This is a sad end to a chain of unfortunate circumstances, that possibly started with a nasty road accident in 2008 involving an oil spill from a crane, followed by a challenging 500 tonne crane overturn in Peterhead in 2014, along with a few more benign but costly road incidents and other issues. And then just as the company had completed a restructuring and was ready for a fresh start along came the pandemic, which has been further exasperated by the post covid rises in fuel and now energy costs.
If companies cannot ramp rates up to more commercially viable levels fast enough, Whyte will not be the last.