Buyer is sought for successful company

HA Interiors sign at Cramlington.
HA Interiors sign at Cramlington.
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TIME is running out to save a Cramlington factory which administrators hope can “rise like a phoenix” as they believe it has a promising future.

All 74 employees at H-A Interiors, based in Station Road, were made redundant two weeks ago after their parent German company Alkor-Venilia GmbH went into administration.

Staff – some of whom had worked at the factory for 30 years – have been left devastated by the decision to put it into administration, made even worse as they had a full order book.

And those left to pick up the pieces say the British company – which recorded turnover of £9m and a profit of £3.5m last year – could have a promising future.

UK administrator Mercer and Hole says there has already been several parties expressing interest in H-A Interiors, but time is running out to find a buyer.

Chris Laughton, insolvency administrator, said it would prefer to sell the company to a new investor or buyer, rather than sell off the remaining equipment to fund all creditors.

The company makes self-adhesive decorative borders, wall coverings and wallpaper, with orders from big-name companies including Argos, Homebase and B&Q.

Mr Laughton said the only reason the Cramlington factory had to close was the impact of its parent company’s troubles in Europe, with supplies being unable to reach England.

He said: “This factory and its staff are keen to prove that UK manufacturing can rise like a phoenix again.

“There is a community riding on this sale that are willing, talented and able to help an investor grow the business and benefit from decades of expertise, marketing know-how and manufacturing quality.

“What we’re trying to do is identify potential investors or buyers who will keep the operations in Cramlington going.

“Anybody who wants to keep that operation up and running will have to put a lot of capital into making that work. We’re trying to find somebody who is interested in doing that.

“If that happens, it’s likely to mean more money coming back to creditors of the company, rather than just selling off the machinery and stock.

“One of the big attractions is that it preserves economic value in the community.”

Mr Laughton added: “There is already some interest, but it’s early days.

“We’ve had several inquiries and are continuing to explore the market and encourage people who might be interested to speak to us.

“We need to move quickly on this.”

Speaking about the staff, he said: “We had to make the staff redundant. They had been unpaid for six weeks. We had to let them go so they could go and sign on the dole.”

Staff at the factory have been left devastated by the news, especially as they had been successful.

John Parkin, production manager, said: “Although there is a lot of manufacturers who do what we do, we did have one product which was unique.

“We’ve had very little conversation with anyone from Europe.

“We had a full order book into the German company, which then distributed it around Europe.”

He added: “All the staff are now searching for new jobs.”