ADMINISTRATORS have been called in again at one of Blackburn’s oldest industrial firms.

Troubled Mercer and Sons, in Pump Street, has been closed for more than a week.

The firm’s website is down and calls to their offices have remained unanswered.

Their trading address, according to Companies House, has now been switched to Cheshire-based business recovery firm Dow, Schofield and Watts.

Around 25 staff were thought to be attached to Mercer and Sons, which began life as an ironmongers in Northgate in 1840 and had operated as a steel stockholders and fastenings provider more recently.

Back in 2016 then-managing director Bill Haggas sold on the £3million a year operation to Walkerbridge, in Accrington, part of the Walker Steel group originally established by Blackburn Rovers benefactor Jack Walker.

The assets of the Pump Street firm were then estimated at around £600,000 and Mr Haggas was the fifth generation of his family to oversee the company.

But bosses at Walkerbridge confirmed to the Lancashire Telegraph that they offloaded Mercer and Sons to Salford-based Fixings and Tools Ltd last summer.

Several days before the administrators were called in, a charge was registered between Fixings and Tools Ltd and Mercer and Sons for property interests and a long list of equipment and tools.

One of the directors, Peter Dodgeon, had also stepped down in early June, leaving Richard Coffey and Andrew Fisher as the remaining board members.

Some of the workers at Mercer and Sons are understood to have been with the company for more than 30 years and will have to wait to discover where they now stand.

Cllr Phil Riley, the borough council’s executive member for regeneration, said: “It is always sad when a company calls in administrators, especially if they have got such a long and distinguished history in the town.”

No accounts have currently been filed for Mercer and Sons for the last full trading year in 2018. But the 2017 figures showed total equity of around £354,000, which was down from £585,000 the previous year.

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No-one was available for comment at Dow, Schofield and Watts though it was confirmed that they were handling the Mercer and Sons case.

Bosses at Fixings and Tools, who had taken on the Mercer and Sons and related branding, also refused to comment.

The original store, latterly a well-known toy and hardware trader, in Northgate, was closed by Mr Haggas in 2009.