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Family businesses feel financial heat

EVEN the recent surge in residential building demand could not stop yet another family building supply business from facing grave financial difficulties.

The Brady family called in administrators for their business H.B Brady Co. Pty Ltd, trading as Bradys Building Products, following a difficult year of trading.

Family member and managing director Greg O?Neill said the asset-rich company was experiencing temporary cash flow problems as a result of bad debts in Malaysia and Singapore.

The WA company, trading since 1919, extracts, manufactures and distributes gypsum plaster and other related products for the local market and South East Asia. More than half of the company?s annual $18 million turnover comes from its Malaysian and Singaporean subsidiaries.

Mr O?Neill said while the WA residential industry was experiencing a significant upturn, the demand for plasterboard always came fairly late in the building cycle when the building was almost complete.

In a bid to keep afloat the business more than halved its workforce in the past year. It now has about 40 people working at its Bayswater, Bunbury and O?Connor sites.

Mr O?Neill said the best outcome would be to trade itself out of the current negative cash flow.

Louis Nilant and Oren Zohar, from Clout & Associates, appointed joint administrators, are seeking expressions of interest for the purchase of the company as a going concern or through equity investment from a third party.

?We are dealing with various parties and continuing to trade. We are also working with the directors to restructure the business,? Mr Nilant told Business News.

The land assets include a number of mining leases and licenses for the extraction of gypsum.

Mr Nilant said BankWest had a $2.8 million exposure in the business but was being very supportive of the family.

?It (voluntary administration) came as a surprise to the bank and it is very comfortable with its position,? Mr Nilant said.

A further $400,000 is owed in employee entitlements and $800,000 to other creditors. A meeting with creditors is set for November 7. Possible suitors for the business include CSR and Boral. WA?s family businesses have not had a good record of late.

In the past few months both the Houghton family, which ran a number of Ford franchises, and the Brown family and their CanningVale-based building contracting business Brown & Joy closed their doors.

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