Roadbridge receivership a major blow for 1,600 workers

The Roadbridge offices in Ballysimon, Limerick.

CONSTRUCTION giant Roadbridge has announced that it is to go into receivership, leaving the future of its 630 workforce and a further 1,000 indirect positions in jeopardy.

The Limerick-headquartered civil engineering and construction firm, which traded for over half a century, had been struggling to find an investor after suffering serious financial difficulties, coupled with rising energy and building material costs.

Concerns had been raised when the company, which owes €36 million to its main creditor Bank of Ireland, began moving workers off sites last Thursday.

A statement issued by the company confirmed that it has requested Bank of Ireland to appoint Grant Thornton as receivers “as result of insurmountable financial challenges.”

Founded in 1967, Roadbridge directly employs 630 workers across Ireland, the UK and Sweden. A further 1,000 indirect jobs will be negatively impacted, sources said.

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Chairman Aidan Murphy said they had been working tirelessly for the last number of months to find a solution to the grave challenges faced by the company.

“My fellow directors and I greatly regret having to take this step, but unfortunately, it was the only possible option at this time.

“The Board recognise the support of all our stakeholders, including  Bank of Ireland, in difficult circumstances as the Directors explored every opportunity to save the company. We are committed to working closely with the receivers to get the best possible outcome for employees, creditors and stakeholders,” Mr Murphy added.

The abandoned Northern Limerick Distributor Road which was being constructed by Roadbridge.

Roadbridge staff were pulled off a number of projects and informed of the news, including those working on the €58million Coonagh Knockalisheen Road, a key element of the Limerick Regeneration of Moyross.

“It’s a major blow, shocking news, and it’s very worrying time for all the workers and their families. This is their livelihood and they should be the priority for the receivers and the government,” said Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell.

Deputy O’Donnell said he discussed “the bleak outlook for the 630 direct worker and the further 1,000 indirect jobs” with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, adding, “the government stands ready to support the workers”.

I cannot underestimate the impact this will have on the workers, and on the entire Mid West region. It’s is a very difficult day for the workers, and we need to hear from the receivers now and what they’re intentions are,” Mr O’Donnell added.

Roadbridge, which recently completed the new north runway at Dublin Airport, are reported to have a contract order book of around €900 million, although some existing and future projects were in doubt.

11/3/2022 Story David Raleigh. The abandoned Delmege Park site where over 20 modular homes were being constructed by Roadbridge for the Peter McVerry Trust. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

The company, which has built motorways, wind farms, factories and data centres, was also engaged in a modular social housing project in Moyross. However it is uncertain when workers would return to the site.

Limerick Labour Party councillor, Conor Sheehan said he was “really concerned” the news may result in the Moyross road project “being delayed for up to two years”. He called on the Department of Social Protection to put a specialist team in place to deal with any redundancies.

A spokesman for Roadbridge confirmed the Board had put Conor Gilligan, the firm’s long-serving and highly respected chief executive, “on gardening leave on February 14. His duties ad responsibilities were discharged by the Chief Operations Officer Pat McCarthy from that date”.

Mr Gilligan told Irish Building Magazine last October: “Our order book is secured for the next three years and the future is bright.”

However he also referred to a skills shortages in the industry and  stated that “prices for materials have gone up significantly in recent months.

“What we’ve seen in the past 20 years is too much emphasis on trying to levy the contractor with all of the risk on a project, risk should be apportioned to those best able to manage it. It is not a sin for a contractor to make a profit. There needs to be structures in place within government procurement that allows for this,” he added.