A FAMOUS North-East housebuilder has entered administration, placing 50 jobs and the future of an 87-year-old company at risk.

Yuill Homes, based in Hartlepool, called in administrators from Baker Tilly after succumbing to debt problems.

The firm, responsible for building more than 30,000 houses across the north, has one development on its books at Brierton Lane in Hartlepool where eight homes are close to completion and the firm has planning permission for another 20.

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Customers have been advised to contact Steven Brown at Baker Tilly on 0191 5115000 for the latest information.

All 30 staff employed at Yuill's Harbour Walk offices and its 20 building site staff have been retained while joint administrators Steven Ross and Ian Kings attempt to find a buyer for the firm which was established in 1927, and purchased by Cecil M Yuill Limited in 1993 which sold it to Taggart Holdings in 2006.

A Baker Tilly spokesman said it had received several calls from potential buyers. 

In its last set of published accounts Yuill warned of several risks to the business including sluggish customer demand, homebuyers struggling to secure affordable mortgages, competition from larger firms and the company's ongoing ability to access finance. 

David Mullins, managing director at Yuill Homes, said: "The last five years have seen some of the toughest market conditions in the industry and we have done everything possible to avoid this route. However, the financial economic climate has left us with little alternative.

"That said, we are hopeful that from this process there will be an emerging business that continues to build on a successful brand that has been in the North-East housing market for over 85 years."

Details of the firm's woes came as the latest government figures showed the number of new houses being built in England last year was the highest for six years.

However, Douglas Kell, director of the Civil Engineering Contractors' Association (North East) cautioned against talk of a full recovery in the industry. Mr Kell said: "It's very sad to see a company of Yuill's standing in difficulties like this. It illustrates how, despite growing talk of a recovery in housebuilding, and in construction and civil engineering, the sector here in the North-East certainly isn't out of the woods yet."

Among the recent developments Yuill has been involved in are: Bishops Green at Spennymoor; College Gardens, Billingham; Dales View, Consett, and East Shore Village in Seaham.

In the early 1990s, the firm raised its profile when it became the shirt sponsor for Hartlepool United.

Mr Ross, at Baker Tilly, said: "Yuill Homes is a well-known brand in the North-East housing market but, due to the high level of debt finance, was placed into administration to protect the value of its assets for the benefit of creditors.

"Our immediate priorities are to speak with employees, suppliers and other stakeholders as well as those people who are in the process of buying a new home from the company."

The Yuill family issued a statement to clarify their position.  

Edward Yuill, managing director of Mowden Park Estates, said: “We are, of course, disappointed that Yuill Homes has gone into administration – the company was founded by my Grandfather, Cecil M Yuill in 1927 and has been responsible for a sizeable proportion of the region’s housing stock in the intervening years, building up to 1,000 homes every year at its height and employing some 500 skilled personnel.

“In 2006, however, we sold the entire company to Irish house builder, Taggart Holdings, and have had no commercial interest or responsibility since that date for the company.

"It restructured some two years later in 2008 but, again, this had nothing to do with the Yuill family who have since concentrated on other areas of estate management and land development, particularly our estate management division, Mowden Park Estates and our land company, Northumbrian Land Limited.”

“Whilst we therefore regret this bad news to the town of Hartlepool and the consequential effect on individuals and suppliers, we must reiterate that, apart from the name, Yuill Homes has no longer any links to our own business which continues to trade successfully.”