Former Director of Chichester stone specialist CWO sets up new company to rescue assets from Administrator

A company called Chichester Stoneworks Ltd has been established by Adam Stone, a former Director of Cathedral Works Organisation (Chichester) Ltd (CWO), with the backing of London-based stone contractor Szerelmey, to keep the business of CWO alive following it going into Administration on 5 March.

Adam is being supported in the new venture by specialist works supervisors from CWO Danny Rushman and John Rye. It is expected that some of the 73 people laid off by the Administrator will be employed by the new company.

The former Managing Director of CWO, Bernard Burns, who headed a management buy-out of the company from the Geoffrey Osborne building group in 2006, has moved to Szerelmey as Director of Business Development. Szerelmey is is meeting regularly with Adam Stone of Chichester Stoneworks at the Terminus Road works previously owned by CWO that are now occupied by Chichester Stoneworks and Szerelmey Conservation.

CWO was originally the cathedral masonry workshop in Chichester but was devolved as a commercial operation in 1965, when it became part of the Geoffrey Osborne building group. In 2006, it was bought in a management buy-out orchestrated by Malcolm Diamond, who had been brought in by Osborne as chairman three years earlier to oversee the masonry business. Bernie Burns led the MBO. At that time CWO represented £5million of Osborne’s £234million turnover.

CWO’s accounts to March 2013 were overdue and not filed, but its accounts to the end of March 2012 show a pre-tax profit of £67,870 on turnover of £9.1million. The previous year it had made a loss of £210,000 on a similar turnover.

CWO became one of the country’s best known and most highly respected stonemasonry companies. It famously worked for the City of London on a number of prestigious projects, including the refurbishment of The Monument, which commemorates the Great Fire of London. It was also a Royal Warrant Holder, having worked on a number of royal palaces. Its Caen limestone restoration of the Quadrangle at Buckingham Palace won the Repair & Restoration Award in the 2012 Natural Stone Awards and three more of its projects were either highly commended or commended.