Joint administrator David Merrygold, corporate recovery partner at PKF Accountants and Business Advisors, refused to name companies, but said Warners’ problems were largely due to main contractors failing to pay bills on time.
As H&V News reported last week many specialist contractors are suffering from late payments from major firms.
Mr Merrygold said: “Warners is feeling the effects of the downturn in the construction industry.
“We are seeing employers and main contractors not paying bills on time for the work the smaller sub contractors have done. This in turn leads to cash flow problems as is the case with Warners.
“This is a fairly prominent theme throughout the construction industry. It is noticeable that this situation is beginning to hit more businesses.”
A total of 51 employees from a 90 strong workforce were made redundant on Tuesday night with a skeleton staff kept on to help review existing contracts.
Warners M&E was established in 1845 and has been a HVCA member since 1920. In 2006/2007 its turnover was £7.7 million and its forecast turnover for this year was £9 million.
Five generations of the Warner family ran the company until 1998 when Michael Warner – the great great grandson of founder Henry Warner - retired and sold his majority shareholding.
Andrew Harper, managing director of Warners, said: “Our parent company Haymills took the decision not to support its subsidiary company Warners M&E. This left us with no option but to call in the administrators.”
A statement from Haymills said it inherited Warners in 2004 as “a minor part” of the Haymills management buyout
The statement added: “Unlike Haymills, Warners was a failing business at that time. Various changes were instigated and we believed that Warners could be turned into a success: new leadership, better controls and a cash investment of £300,000 two years ago.
“There was a first reward for this patience in 2006/07 when a small profit was reported from Warners M&E Ltd.
“In 2007/08, the short term improvement stalled. Problems on a number of contracts and a lack of workload led to a crunch point.
“As a result, further investment was therefore not an option Haymills would entertain.”
Jack McDavid, Head of Communications at the HVCA, said: “It is always sad when we lose a member – particularly one with such a long history of membership.
“I cannot comment on this particular case, but the issue of late payment is a matter the HVCA has campaigned on.”
Michael Warner, who is now the HVCA’s Eastern Counties regional manager, said: “Hopefully something can be recovered from it. HVCA members may come along and pick up the pieces.
'There is a lot of experience and a very good reputation attached to the company.
“From a personal point of view I am particularly sorry to see this come about.”