Construction firm headed by former Cambridgeshire enterprise board chairman Mark Reeve collapses with £12m owed to 420 creditors

PUBLISHED: 17:22 25 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 25 February 2019

Mark Reeve, chairman of Chalcroft Ltd and former chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership. His company has gone into liquidation with debts in excess of £12m. Picture; CHALCROFT

Mark Reeve, chairman of Chalcroft Ltd and former chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership. His company has gone into liquidation with debts in excess of £12m. Picture; CHALCROFT

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The construction company headed by the former chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has collapsed with debts of more than £12 million.

The new complex for MMUK that Chalcroft built at Alconbury. Pictiure: URBAN AND CIVICThe new complex for MMUK that Chalcroft built at Alconbury. Pictiure: URBAN AND CIVIC

The construction company headed by the former chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has collapsed with debts of more than £12 million.

Chalcroft Ltd, whose chairman Mark Reeve was described as ‘evasive’ by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons, has gone into liquidation over what it calls “a series of events within the business”.

The firm owes £12.3m to around 420 creditors, including £5.8m to suppliers. Some businesses are owed six-figure sums.

It also owes £3.2m to its bank, £1.1m to the taxman and £530,000 to staff in wages and redundancy pay.

The redevelopment on the site of the former JE Beales store within the Vancouver Quarter in King’s Lynn seeks to create new commercial spaces that meet the demands of current multiple store users Picture: COLMAN ARCHITECTSThe redevelopment on the site of the former JE Beales store within the Vancouver Quarter in King’s Lynn seeks to create new commercial spaces that meet the demands of current multiple store users Picture: COLMAN ARCHITECTS

Two years ago Mr Reeve faced stinging criticism from NE Cambs MP over his chairmanship of LEP and in particular the awarding of a contract to Chalcroft to build a new HQ for MMUK and MM Flowers of Chatteris – where they employed up to 400 workers- to a £20million, 220,000 sq ft premises at Alconbury with business rates incentives for the first five years.

Mr Barclay questioned the propriety of the LEP creating circumstances in which the move happened as they had ploughed more than £10million of public money to develop an enterprise zone at Alconbury Weald, a former RAF base near Huntingdon. His refusal to answer some of the questions put to him about potential conflicts of interest was described by the committee chairman as “covering it up”

Last Thursday news of Chalcroft’s collapse was blamed in part by customers taking too long to pay.

Long standing debt and a contract that over ran were among other reasons why Chalcroft called in administrators.

Mark Reeve, chairman of Chalcroft Ltd and former chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership. His company has gone into liquidation with debts in excess of £12m. Picture; CHALCROFT Mark Reeve, chairman of Chalcroft Ltd and former chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership. His company has gone into liquidation with debts in excess of £12m. Picture; CHALCROFT

Directors decided on February 12 to place all of the Chalcroft group’s companies into liquidation.

A total of 70 jobs are expected to go, including 20 locally around King’s Lynn.

Chalcroft although outstanding work such as the new H&M in King’s Lynn town centre would be completed.

The company was set up by Fred Chalcroft in 1979 and owned by him until he sold it in 2007.

Chalcroft was bought in a management buyout that year by four directors - Mark and David Reeve, Paul Morley and Stephen England.

Mr England resigned as a director last year, while Mark chairs the board, David is finance director and Mr Morley is managing director.

Chalcroft Ltd is owned by a firm called Chalcroft Holdings in which the Reeve brothers are the majority shareholders.

According to Chalcroft Ltd’s 2017 accounts, the firm had a turnover of £58.4m but made a loss of £78,000 that year, a collapse from £537,000 profit in 2016.

But its accounts said it had already secured £30m worth of work for 2018.

Projects include a distribution centre for New Look in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, a business park in Aylesbury and work at Searles Leisure Resort in Hunstanton.

Chalcroft was the main contractor for the design and build of MM Flowers and MMUK’s 24,000m new complex near Huntingdon.

Previously based in two separate buildings in Chatteris, the relocation to Alconbury Weald has enabled the businesses to bring together flowers and grape teams into a modern, purpose built facility.

Mr Reeve’s resignation as chairman of LEP was announced just before Christmas in 2017 and the organisation was later shut down and absorbed into the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The Government report into the running of LEP found no misuse of public money but put on record “our displeasure at the conduct of the former chair when giving evidence.

“He (Mr Reeve) failed to appreciate the importance of good governance, showed a lack of remorse about the outcome for GCGP LEP, and was evasive when questioned about his potential conflict of interest.”

On the Chalcroft website it says that Mr Reeve “heads a team of owner/directors and the company has grown rapidly since a management buyout in 2007.

“He regards a collaborative approach with all stakeholders as key to success, along with established values and clear objectives.

“Having left school at 15 to become a carpenter’s apprentice and progressed ’hands-on’ through the industry, Mark has invaluable knowledge and experience in a wide range of disciplines and provides support and advice to clients and his own team.

“A keen golfer, Mark enjoys taking on the challenge of different courses when he is not working or renovating his family home.”

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