MORE than 250 jobs have been lost at a North-East civil engineering firm after it collapsed into administration.

Owen Pugh, which is headquartered in Dudley, near Cramlington, Northumberland, went into administration on Monday.

Attempts to save the firm have failed, and it was confirmed today that 257 jobs would be axed as a result.

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The group, which was founded in 1946, also has sites in Blaydon on Tyneside, Sunderland and a drainage operation base in Middlesbrough – which was relocated from Stockton last year.

The collapse is blamed on cash-flow problems due to loss-making projects.

Administrators said one part of Owen Pugh, which operates Marsden Quarry near Sunderland, will continue while a buyer is found, securing 30 jobs.

A further nine employees have been retained at the group’s head office in the short term to assist the administrators.

Christopher Petts and David Dunckley of Grant Thornton UK LLP , joint administrators, said “detailed discussions” were had at the start of the week, but the group could not be saved.

“Upon our appointment it quickly become clear that the civil engineering contracting arm of the business was not viable and further trading could not be supported.

“Furthermore, key customers highlighted that the insolvency of the group had triggered contract termination clauses.

“In turn, due to the inter-dependency within the group on these large civil engineering contracts, there was a knock on effect on the viability of the plant hire and drain services businesses.

“Therefore, after much consideration, and taking into account the absence of funding available to the Joint Administrators, the reluctant decision has been taken to cease to trade Owen Pugh & Company, Owen Pugh Civil Engineering, Owen Pugh Contracts, and HCS Drain Services.”

The firm has been a contractor on the multi-million pound project to build a triple-decker roundabout at the Silverlink junction in North Tyneside.

It had also been appointed to build roads and drainage at the Cramlington Power Plant Mr Petts added: “Owen Pugh Aggregates continues to be maintained whilst a buyer is sought.

“All 30 employees at the Owen Pugh Aggregates site have been retained and are working with the Joint Administrators to help effect a going concern sale.

“The Joint Administrators will continue to work with those employees affected to assist them through this difficult time and to help them find new employment.”