Anker House Group, a supplier of PET machinery and technical services, has gone into administration with the loss of 45 jobs.
Mounting debt led to the appointment Nov. 28 of joint administrators from accountant BDO Stoy Hayward to take over the Accrington, England-based firm.
Three days later, administrators laid off the Anker workforce.
``We are currently assessing the business and looking for buyers for the business assets,'' BDO joint administrator Dermot Power said in a news release.
Anker House units hit by the decision include Anker PET Equipment Ltd., Anker House Exports Ltd., Anker PET Mould & Tooling Ltd. and engineering services firm Anker House Trading Ltd.
The administrators said they already have been approached by six parties from Europe and North America who are interested in acquiring parts of the Anker business. BDO wants to sell the operations quickly, possibly by the end of the year, Power said.
Partners Kevin Gallagher and Anthony Thompson formed Anker House in 1996 to buy and sell used PET blow molding equipment. From there they moved rapidly into rebuilding and refurbishing PET molding machinery, including a sales and service agreement in partnership with PET blow molding machine manufacturer Sipa SpA of Vittorio Veneto, Italy.
Last year, Anker invested $2.3 million to expand the PET Mould & Tooling operation in Accrington, including construction of a 16,000-square-foot design center. The firm won a contract to supply trial molds for Coca-Cola Bottlers (Ulster) Ltd.'s Deep River Rock bottled-water project in Northern Ireland.
Barely six months ago, Anker PET Moulds & Tooling unveiled an ambitious, $3.1 million plan to build a U.S. PET bottle and preform mold design, sales and service center by May 2004. The company said the operation would be in Charlotte, N.C.
Power said Anker House has grown and diversified rapidly, and had ``lost sight of its core business.''
``It started as a straightforward equipment buying and selling business and followed with add-ons and add-ons,'' he said, adding that it appeared the owners had spread resources too thinly.
One small joint venture, regional sales and service unit Anker Chile Ltda. of Santiago, Chile, owned 80 percent by Anker House, has not been affected by the moves, according to Power.