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Former Rok boss launches new business

Garvis Snook, the former boss of failed contractor Rok, is to launch a new property repair and improvement business.

The as-yet-unnamed venture will be aimed at giving regional firms the benefits of national backing, with full details expected to be unveiled in the next two months.

According to Mr Snook the new venture will aim to give customers’ reassurance about local tradesmen working in their homes by bringing them together under a recognised nationally branded service, a concept which appears to echo that of Rok, which used to describe itself as the “nation’s local builder”.

The businesses will form part of what Mr Snook describes as an “innovative consortium structure” whereby regional firms will own a share in the national company and vice versa.

The structure is designed to help ease the raising of finance, as well as incentivising performance, sharing costs and being more tax efficient.

Mr Snook said:  “I believe this is the right time to launch a new venture and that the structure of this new business is one which can thrive and prove successful for all involved.

“Despite the tough economic climate, home owners still need trades people they can rely on and, with the housing market in its current state, more people are looking for home improvements, instead of moving.

“The business will link the strengths of a national network with the peace of mind customers get from hiring a trusted local tradesman. The relationship between the national and local businesses will be one in which each benefits from the success of the other.”

The news comes after Mr Snook’s name appeared on a Companies House listing for a company known as Repair-Rite in April last year.

He was listed as executive chairman and the company was registered to an address in Exeter.

The move proved controversial, following so soon after the collapse of Rok, which fell into administration the previous November leaving debts of £200 million to unsecured creditors.

Nearly all of the 3,800 staff were laid off as a result with small parts of the firm rescued by competitors including Mansell and Mears.

Rok operated in the repair and maintenance market as well as in construction.

The combination of its rapid growth through acquisition and its high fixed costs due to a large network of local offices was largely blamed for its demise.

Mr Snook has so far declined to comment on what led to the collapse of the contractor which, with a turnover of over £700m became one of the largest victims of the recession in the construction industry.