126 employees have been made redundant as administrators were today called in at a York heritage building company which has been in business since 1747.

Julian Pitts and Bob Maxwell of Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators of William Anelay Ltd, York, one of Britain’s longest-established construction and heritage restoration companies, following the failure of moves to rescue the business by securing a deal with creditors.

William Anelay, a £38 million turnover family business which has been trading since 1747, has completed scores of high-profile historic and listed buildings schemes throughout the UK including Lambeth Palace and Wilton’s Music Hall, London.  It has won numerous awards and had 17 schemes on site, including those at York Mansion House, Bradford City Hall and Lancaster Castle.

Following cash flow difficulties, the business sought a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with creditors, but has been placed into administration because the proposed CVA proved unviable. 

The administrators are currently assessing the situation in order to maximise value for creditors as well as liaising with the 140-strong workforce. 

William Anelay Ltd has now ceased trading and 126 staff have been made redundant.

William Anelay also operates associated businesses Lowery Roofing, Hare and Ransome Joinery, Anelay Traditional Masonry and Anelay Building and Conservation, all of which are unaffected by the administration and will continue to trade as normal.

Andrew Walker and Doug Robertson from Irwin Mitchell in Leeds are advising the administrators.

“It is very sad to see the demise of such a historic Yorkshire family business,” Mr Pitts said.  “Unfortunately, William Anelay ran into cash flow difficulties following a period of expansion and problems with some complex projects.  Despite attempts to secure a CVA, this did not prove viable and there was no alternative but to place the business into administration.

“We will be working closely with the management to realise returns for creditors and will keep the employees fully informed as the situation becomes clearer. 

"We are now in discussions with various interested parties and are hopeful that it may prove possible to novate some of the company’s contracts to ensure that work can be completed with the minimum of disruption to clients.”

The Press reported last month that the company had sought a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with its creditors to tackle cashflow difficulties.

York Press:

Director Tony Townend (left) and Charles Anelay of William Anelay, pictured in 2013

But on Wednesday it revealed that it appeared the proposed CVA was "no longer viable" and the £38 million turnover family-run business looked set to go into administration.

Charles Anelay, chairman and special projects director, told The Press on Wednesday that the last few weeks had been the worst of his life. He thanked staff for their commitment and loyalty and apologised to clients and creditors who would lose out.

York Press:

The company's headquarters in Osbaldwick

But one of the creditors, who did not wish to be named, said: "The financial impact on local business in York will be horrendous. We will survive, but I don't know if others will be able to."

Mr Anelay said there had been a high level of support for the CVA proposals, under which creditors are paid an agreed percentage in the pound if enough of them agree to it.

But he claimed "the actions of a small number of suppliers had eroded the confidence of certain key clients" adding that that the steps they had then taken to protect their positions had in turn had a "devastating effect on the company’s projected cashflow within the proposed arrangement".

York Press:

He said the company was very active at the time of the CVA, with 17 schemes on site, including ones at York Mansion House, Bradford City Hall and Lancaster Castle.

Mr Anelay, the eighth generation of the founding family, said: “We have worked very hard to save the business and do the best for our creditors by proposing a CVA. We really believed that we had a good plan to get through our cash difficulties, and were supported by our bank and HMRC.

“Unfortunately, the CVA proposal is no longer viable because some of our creditors have destabilised the situation by their actions on site and in relation to the CVA, and some of our clients have acted in ways that have meant that our expected cashflows, which were a key part of the CVA, will not happen.

“The last few weeks have been the worst of my life. We are hugely disappointed that it has come to this. We thank all our staff for their commitment and loyalty, apologise to those clients and creditors who have given their support and who will now lose out, and thank all past friends of the firm and members of the public who kindly gave their support.

“All I can hope is that at some point in the future people will look back at William Anelay Ltd and recognise 269 years of skilled craftsmanship which gave us the privilege to restore parts of our country’s architectural heritage with some amazing projects on some very special buildings which will be admired far into the future.”