Construction company Kell & Rigby stops work as financial talks collapse

The 102-year-old construction company Kell & Rigby has stopped work at its sites across the eastern seaboard and is reportedly scrambling for a solution to stave off collapse, after losses from apartment projects weighed on the family-run business.

The board’s decision to stop work across New South Wales, Canberra and Queensland follows the collapse of talks with a potential partner about a company restructure and refinance.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union NSW state secretary Brian Parker is quoted saying that a Chinese investors and property company FKP were the parties that walked away.

James Kell, the managing director whose great-grandfather founded the business, says that two apartment projects – one ahead of the Sydney Olympics, and another in Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay – had damaged the company. “The traditional builder contract model for apartments does not work,” the Australian Financial Review quoted him saying.

Kell also told Macquarie Radio yesterday that the company is “still talking about a way out of this, about a solution”.

But the news puts hundreds of jobs at risk, with the CFMEU’s Brian Parker tipping contractors and more than 50 businesses will also be hit by a collapse.

Brian Seidler, of the Master Builders Association in NSW, says it’s a “sad day for the building community in NSW”.

“These companies played a substantial role in what the city [Sydney] looks like and there’s not many left.”

He says the state’s building industry is not in good shape at the moment, so companies need to ensure they are not cutting margins too much to secure work.

“The environment is it’s a client’s market.”

According to the Australian Financial Review, the company had annual turnover of $150 million, and says the CFMEU and its lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, had been fair to the company.

Although there were predictions the company would collapse today, there were no listed changes for the company on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website this morning.

The company’s website was not online this morning. Kell and Parker were contacted for comment.


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