Innovation

Major construction business behind David Jones refurbishment collapses into administration

Patrick Stafford /

One of the most successful construction firms in the country has collapsed, in yet another sign this aspect of the economy continues to do it tough.

The 20-year-old Walton Construction business, whose clients include a $100 million refurbishment of the Melbourne David Jones store, has been placed in administration.

Founder and chief executive Craig Walton was contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but no response was available prior to publication.

The company was also contacted, but all offices appeared to be unstaffed.

The business was founded in 1993 by Craig Walton, and has since expanded across the country with offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Major works have been undertaken in most capital cities, along with Newcastle, Wollongong and the Gold Coast.

The company has had a successful run, with revenue in the hundreds of millions and an employee count of more than 300 at its top.

However, Walton has now said up to 30 jobs may go due to the administration.

“It is also the saddest day because of the impact on our employees and their families who have been so loyal and outstandingly professional over the whole journey,” he has told Fairfax.

Walton also said wages and superannuation are up to date, and other entitlements will be paid.

“Six months ago we were looking at a disaster scenario. Today is not good, but most of our people have a good future,” he said.

Some of the company’s projects have been sold to competitors. The list of current work on the Walton website shows various projects, including an apartment building worth $13 million in Melbourne, a $2.9 million project for the Defence Force and a $25 million hospital upgrade.

The construction industry has been one of the most affected by the slowdown in the economy. The latest results from the Australian Industry Group-Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index showed the industry slowed during August.

Even though interest rates are at a record low, businesses are still experiencing the slowdown – business owners say they’ve been forced to reduce their margins or even take losses to generate work.

The industry has been affected by a wave of smaller collapses, but also larger businesses: last year Reed Constructions collapsed with debts of $182 million, affecting hundreds of businesses working as subcontractors.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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