Former Clarets director steps in to buy company's assets

SIXTY-two people have lost their jobs at a Burnley bakery equipment firm originally established by former Clarets director John Turkington.

Major problems began for Turkington Europe Ltd, based on Billington Road Industrial Estate, when its American arm ran into trouble with its financiers in February.

Just over 100 staff were later laid off at Turkington USA’s plant in Clayton, North Carolina, leaving their Burnley colleagues with a £6.9million banking liability.

This resulted in director Stuart Ashman placing Turkington Europe, which makes dough processing and bakery equipment, into administration.

Mr Turkington has not been involved with the business since December 2010, it is understood, after stepping down as company secretary.

But he did step in to buy the intellectual property rights to the spare parts and servicing interests for the firm, in a recovery sale arranged by Blackburn-based debts specialists Winterhill Largo.

Administrator Andrew Haslam, of Begbies Traynor Ltd, said efforts had been made to find a suitable buyer for Turkington Europe but no interested parties had come forward.

“The company had received a demand in excess of $11million from the bankers of its holding company, Turkington USA, for which it had provided a cross guarantee,” he added.

The prospects for the Burnley plant remained unclear as it mainly dealt with sub-contracted work from the American arm of the business, according to Mr Haslam.

And the company also had a £300,000 bad debt with an American customer over an unfulfilled major order, adding to insolvency worries.

Administrators have said though that it is likely that around £59,000, currently outstanding to staff in wages and holiday pay, will be honoured.

Creditors have until today (Mon) to register claims with the administrators for any outstanding debts.

The firm had debts on its books of around £349,000,. when it entered administration, and around £191,000 of these are thought to be recoverable.

Mr Turkington established his engineering empire more than 30 years ago. His firm J F Turkington Engineers, also based at Billington Road, went under in 2007.

The American expansion began under Mr Ashman, as chief executive of Turkington Industries, in 2004.

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