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Industry mourns end of an era as family-run cooling contractor MacWhirter falls into administration

Contractor with over 130 years of heritage goes into administration with poor margins blamed. Administrator Deloitte makes 52 redundancies

Cardiff-based refrigeration and air conditioning contractor MacWhirter Ltd has had to call in the administrator as a result of poor margins in some of its key contracts. The move comes just six months after longstanding boss Tony MacWhirter lost his battle with cancer.

Richard Hawes and Matthew Cowlishaw of Deloitte Restructuring Services were appointed as Joint Administrators, immediately announcing 52 redundancies, with just three staff retained ‘in order to ensure an orderly wind down of the business and to protect the value of work-in-progress on several contracts.’

Richard Hawes said in a statement: “The Company has recently experienced losses from several contracts due to poor margins being achieved.  As a result of which, the Company was unable to continue to trade and the Directors took the decision to place the Company into Administration.”

The move marks the latest, and possibly final, chapter in a colourful history for MacWhirters, which could trace its history back to 1882, when William McWhirter founded an electrical business in Glasgow. During the course of the next century, the company evolved into a Cardiff-based refrigeration contractor, and the McWhirter name was changed to MacWhirter. The company grew to the point where it had offices in Bristol, Cardiff, London and Horsham.

The news was greeted with sadness by many in the industry. One contractor said: “It is one of the best-known names in the AC contracting business and it is never nice to see good engineers laid off.” Another said: “We all know that margins are tight out there, but perhaps we didn’t realise how tight it was for some of the firms. It is a sad day for MacWhirters and the industry, but perhaps this will provide a reality check that current margins are unsustainable.”


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