Company which built £20m Luton airport car park went BUST last month

Revealed: Company which built £20m Luton airport car park destroyed by inferno went BUST last month – and had also been working on Liverpool and Fulham’s football stadiums

  • Buckingham Contracting Group won contract in 2018 to build airport car park
  • Company went bust on September 4 amid ‘significant cash flow pressures’

The company which constructed the London Luton Airport car park that collapsed during a major fire entered administration just five weeks ago, MailOnline can reveal.

Buckingham Contracting Group won a £20million contract in July 2018 to build the 1,900-car site at the airport in Bedfordshire, which opened one year later in 2019 as part of a multi-year modernisation programme costing tens of millions of pounds.

But the company, which was also involved in building new football stadium stands at Liverpool FC’s Anfield and Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage, went bust on September 4.

Also involved in the car park construction was a Lancashire-based company called Raised Floor Solutions (RFS), although it was not the builder or main contractor.

RFS confirmed to MailOnline today that it was employed by Buckingham to supply and install the metal-deck flooring formwork to the designs produced by a structural engineering firm called Hill Cannon which is based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

The burnt out shells of cars amongst debris at the multi-storey car park at Luton Airport today

People stop to look at the scene following the fire at the Luton Airport car park this afternoon

A fire ripped through the car park at Luton Airport overnight, causing it to collapse

Passengers faced disruption after Luton Airport was closed because of last night’s car park fire

Buckingham had also been involved in the planned £110million redevelopment of the 35,400-seater Casement Park stadium in Belfast, which is due to host matches at Euro 2028 but be primarily used for Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) games.

READ MORE Is this the car that started the Luton airport car park fire? Moment Range Rover explodes before £20m multi-storey structure collapses

In addition, it was contracted to refurbish the lower tiers of two stands at Birmingham City FC’s St Andrew’s stadium – and was previously involved in work on one of the stands at Molineux, home of Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

The firm, which was the biggest construction company to go out of business since Wolverhampton-based Carillion in January 2018, beat four competitors to land the Luton contract.

At the time, Buckingham was performing well having reported an 20 per cent rise in profits for 2017 and a 3.9 per cent margin – its highest in a decade.

But last month, it went bust after 36 years of uninterrupted trading – with about 500 staff being made redundant following what administrators Grant Thornton described as ‘significant cash flow pressures and subsequent losses’.

They added that the ‘legacy issues faced by the company and ongoing losses were simply too great to enable the refinance to succeed in an acceptable timescale’.

At the time, Buckingham’s chairman Mike Kempley said he was left ‘extremely sad’ by the death of the company which had a turnover of £665million, reported Construction News.

Some of the business was saved by civil engineering firm Kier, which bought its rail engineering arm for £9.6million and saved around 180 jobs.

Buckingham Group Contracting was involved in the redevelopment of Liverpool FC’s Anfield

Fulham FC’s new stand at Craven Cottage was also a project on the books of Buckingham

But Buckingham’s other divisions in civil engineering, demolition, major projects and sport and leisure could not be sold by Grant Thornton. 

READ MORE Our new £48,000 Mercedes was destroyed in the Luton airport car park fire

At Luton Airport, the runway remained closed until 3pm today after a vehicle fire that broke out just before 9pm last night caused a car park to collapse.

The fire was declared a major incident, with firefighters working through the night and into the early hours of today to extinguish the blaze.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said it received a report of a car fire on level three of the airport’s Terminal Car Park 2 at 8.47pm yesterday.

Fifteen fire appliances and more than 100 firefighters were deployed.

Three firefighters and a member of airport staff were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation, and another firefighter was treated at the scene.

Andrew Hopkinson, chief fire officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘On arrival my officers were faced with a severe and rapidly spreading fire involving a large number of vehicles that ultimately spread to multiple floors and involved a partial collapse of the car park.’

He said the car park does not have sprinklers, and if it did they ‘may have made a positive impact’.

The fire chief added: ‘We are already talking to the airport about ensuring that any future, and the existing, car parks have sprinklers fitted.’

Buckingham was involved in rebuilding the Kop stand at Birmingham City FC’s St Andrew’s

Buckingham had also been involved in the £110million redevelopment of the 35,400-seater Casement Park stadium in Belfast, which is due to host matches at the Euro 2028 tournament

Mr Hopkinson said up to 1,500 vehicles were inside the car park at the time of the fire.

The blaze is believed to have started with a diesel-powered vehicle ‘and then that fire has quickly and rapidly spread’, he said.

There is no suggestion the blaze happened intentionally. A temporary ramp is being installed at the car park to enable undamaged vehicles to be removed.

MailOnline has asked Buckingham’s administrators Grant Thornton for comment. Hill Cannon has also been contacted for comment.

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