Pandemic project delays push Cleveland Bridge into administration

Over 200 jobs are at risk if significant investment cannot be found

Engineering and steel fabrication firm Cleveland Bridge has fallen into administration as a result of delays on several of its global infrastructure projects, bought on by the outbreak of COVID-19. The firm is owned by Saudi-based Al Rushaid Group.

According to a report by Construction Index, joint administrators Martyn Pullin, David Willis, and Iain Townsend of specialist business advisory firm FRP have been appointed to help save the firm. The firm has 221 staff at its Darlington headquarters and satellite office in Newport, which opened in 2018. The business also has nearly 100 contracted workers on its books.

The firm’s finances are said to have been heavily impacted when a major bridge-building project in Sri Lanka was put on hold because of the pandemic.

“Cleveland Bridge UK, which was founded in 1877, has been a flagbearer for cutting-edge British engineering for more than a century. But no business is immune to the far-reaching impact of the pandemic, which has delayed major infrastructure projects around the world and put significant financial pressure on the teams behind them,” remarked Pullin, partner at FRP.

Over 200 jobs are at risk at Cleveland Bridge, which helped build the Shard skyscraper in London, the Wembley Stadium arch and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In addition to its Darlington base, the company has manufacturing facilities in Dubai and Saudi Arabia and can produce around 150,000 tonnes of steel annually. It engages 48 contractors in Darlington and 50 more at other sites, the report said.

The firm is said to have held several rounds of talks with the Al Rushaid Group for an extra $8.24m in finance. However, the Saudi owner made it clear that it won’t put any more money into propping up the business and walked away.

With a full order book covering the next 18 months, in addition to its skilled workforce, expertise and prominent standing in the industry, there is optimism that a buyer for the firm can be found. However, administrators from FRP Advisory have warned that the business will be wound up unless it receives significant investment, the report concluded.

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