A CONSTRUCTION firm’s demise after 120 years in business has been blamed on ‘late and non-paying customers’.

Howley-based Harry Fairclough Construction, which was first founded in 1898 and employed around 150 people, went into administration last week.

A winding up order was made against the Howley Lane-headquartered business at Liverpool County Court a week previously by Eric Johnson of Northwich Ltd on February 12.

Now its former communications agency Engage Comms has claimed that Harry Fairclough Construction collapsed due to a number of clients failing to pay for its services or being late in making payments.

In a statement posted on its website, the PR firm said: "We were so shocked and saddened last week to be told the devastating news that our longest standing client Harry Fairclough Construction has been forced into administration.

"The management team had fought so hard to keep it afloat, yet had to inform the team of 150 that they no longer have a job.

"It's every business owner's worst nightmare, and we hear it time and time again in this fragile sector with so many well-established, reputable contractors facing the same fate recently.

"Harry Fairclough is a truly amazing company, with some of the industry's best talent and 120 years in business under its belt.

"We've always had a huge amount of respect for this stalwart of a business, have learnt so much from it and have been proud to call it a client.

"It's no secret that the construction industry in the current economic and political climate is a tough, uncertain and at times impossible place to be – particularly for a small to medium-sized contractor in the north of England working predominantly for the public sector.

"It’s simply unjust that a company with such a strong reputation that has weathered so many storms can be taken down overnight as a result of late and non-paying customers.

"If our business achieves even half of what you did in your 120-plus years we will have succeeded, and we wish everyone in the team the best of luck in their next steps."

Harry Fairclough Construction’s accounts for the 2018/19 year have not yet been submitted to Companies House, having been due on December 31 2019.

During 2017/18, the company made pre-tax profits of £118,000 with a turnover of £38million.

Staff were informed last Thursday, February 20, that the business would be folding.

Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols has pledged her support to workers affected by the company going bust.

She tweeted: "Heartbreaking news from Harry Fairclough.

"I am seeking to secure an urgent meeting with the administrators, and will be here to provide any support required to affected constituents."

Harry Fairclough Construction also has an office in West Yorkshire, with its recent projects including a £1.5million lion enclosure at Chester Zoo, an extension to Blackpool Sixth Form College and work on the Aldham Robarts Library at Liverpool John Moores University.

The company has not responded to a request for comment from the Warrington Guardian.