Chalcroft bosses paid £950,000 in last accounts before firm collapsed owing £12m

PUBLISHED: 11:47 02 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:47 02 March 2019

Chalcroft's offices in King's Lynn were closed when we visited with a skip outside. (Right) Chalcroft chairman and shareholder Mark Reeve. Photo: Archant

Chalcroft's offices in King's Lynn were closed when we visited with a skip outside. (Right) Chalcroft chairman and shareholder Mark Reeve. Photo: Archant

Archant

Bosses at a construction company paid themselves £950,000 in the last accounts before it collapsed, with the top-earning director getting a 70pc pay rise.

The former Chalcroft offices in King's Lynn  Picture: Chris BishopThe former Chalcroft offices in King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

King’s Lynn building firm Chalcroft Ltd announced last week it was going into liquidation, owing creditors £12m.

Some firms are owed six-figure sums and are likely to only get a small fraction back.

One Norfolk builder, who is thousands of pounds out of pocket, said he had invoices for work dating back to May 2017 which Chalcroft had not paid him.

“You couldn’t speak to anyone in the finance department,” he said. “You could go for months without being paid.”

The former Chalcroft offices in King's Lynn  Picture: Chris BishopThe former Chalcroft offices in King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

Ian Kynaston, meanwhile, whose firm is owed £140,000 said his company had not been paid by Chalcroft for cladding work on an industrial estate in Enfield, north London, dating back to October last year.

“I have had numerous conversations with Mark Reeve (Chalcroft’s chairman),” he said.

The majority shareholders of Chalcroft’s holding company are brothers Mark and David Reeve, who was Chalcroft’s finance director.

In January liquidators were brought in and found the firm had been under financial pressure since 2016.

New BMW cars parked outside Mr Reeve's house this week. Picture: ArchantNew BMW cars parked outside Mr Reeve's house this week. Picture: Archant

But Chalcroft’s latest accounts, which are for 2017, show its holding company paid its top-earning director £258,000 in 2017 - a 70pc pay rise on the year before - while the directors who own the company were given a total of £158,000 in dividends in 2016 and 2017.

In 2017 directors were paid £950,000 in remuneration. That was a fifth of the company’s entire staff costs and a 50pc increase on the year before.

A dividend of £33,000 was also paid in 2017 to the four shareholder-directors despite the company making a loss of £77,000. That dividend was taken from the company’s reserves built up the previous year, the auditor said.

In 2016 the shareholders were paid another £125,000 in dividends. Along with the Reeve brothers, the other director-shareholders were managing director Paul Morley and Stephen England.

The payouts came as Chalcroft cut staff, while Reeve family members, who are employed by Chalcroft, lived a luxurious lifestyle.

Photos posted on social media by Mr Reeve’s son, Danny, and his son’s partner, show a new BMW and them enjoying holidays in five-star hotels.

Mr Reeve pointed out that the accounts were 20 months old, and said: “During 2018 Chalcroft took various measures to address the challenges facing the business, but with a backdrop of Carillon’s failure, supply chain credit insurance being withdrawn and no viable working capital provider, very regrettably those measures where unsuccessful leading to the liquidation.”

When a reporter from this newspaper visited the offices of Chalcroft on Wednesday the building was closed and a skip was outside.

We also visited Mr Reeve’s house for comment, where several new BMWs were also parked.

A meeting of creditors will be held on Tuesday.

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