Attempt to save Realstone fails

Iain Kennedy, the Managing Director of Realstone, when he was President of Stone Federation Great Britain in 2013-14. He led a Management buy-out of Realstone in 2010.

An attempt to save Realstone, one of the best known UK-based stone companies, petered out on 4 June, although there is still some suggestion a buyer might be found.

Realstone, taken over in a mangement buy-out led by Managing Director Iain Kennedy in 2010, went into Administration on 18 May. Joint Administrators Keith Marshall and Gareth Harris of RSM Restructuring Advisory say they were appointed following a period of sustained trading losses and sales underperformance which meant the business was no longer viable.

The business and assets of Realstone were marketed prior to the appointment of administrators and it was hoped a deal saving all 35 jobs would have completed by 4 June. Unfortunately, the intended purchaser pulled out of the transaction. The administrators are now assessing their options. They say there are still potential purchasers, but if agreement cannot be reached they will have to look at alternatives in terms of closing the business or performing limited conversion of raw materials to finished goods to maximise realisations for creditors.

Ten of the 35 people at Realstone were made redundant during the week beginning 6 June.

Keith Marshall, RSM Restructuring Partner and one of the Joint Administrators, says: "It is disappointing that after two weeks of trading the business in Administration in order to preserve the opportunity as a going concern, that the front running purchaser was unable to complete the transaction as intended."

The Realstone Ltd annual report for 2014, the latest, shows pre-tax losses of £433,000 on a turnover of £3.3million.

The business, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, is based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, with sites in Glasgow and Penrith, Cumbria.

Keith Marshall says: "We continue to assess our options with a view to maximising realisations for creditors and attempting to safeguard as many jobs as possible."

Block Stone was a part of the Realstone group, operating eight quarries. It continues to trade and Tina Bailey of Block Stone says block will continue to be availble to customers as normal. "The more support we get the better," she told Natural Stone Specialist magazine. "I would like to rail the industry into supporting its block suppliers."

The accounts of Block Stone Ltd to the end of 2014 show a pre-tax profit of nearly £18,000 on a turnover of £1.4million.

A new company called Block Stone Quarries Ltd was incorporated on 31 May based in Hertfordshire. It was set up by Gordon Verhoef, who lives in South Africa. Gordon Verhoef is the man behind London-based stone contractor Szerelmey.