North Antrim TUV MLA Jim Allister has said today that he is 'disappointed' to see Ballymena-based Nu-Track Limited go out of business.
Staff at the local company where left in shock after being told last Thursday (22 September) that they had lost their jobs. A number of the workforce were left frustrated by a lack of communication since the announcement from their former employer, which led to a protest taking place at the gates of Nu-Track in a Galgorm Industrial Estate on Wednesday morning.
A letter (see below) purported to be from company director Rob Shiels on unheaded paper, seen by Love Ballymena, stated that 'all employees will be paid their full owing wages including holiday pay on Thursday 29 September 2022.
It is understood former employees have received this payment this morning.
Commenting on the company's demise, TUV MLA Jim Allister said:
“I am disappointed to see a local manufacturing company, Nu-Track, go out of business in Ballymena. This small bus and horsebox manufacturer brought valuable jobs to the area.
“It is good that outstanding wages will be paid and redundancy procedures set in motion, but the key concern now for these workers is to find them alternative and suitable employment.
“It is fortunate that locally within this manufacturing sector there are vacancies and, therefore, I am hopeful the Nu-Track workers will find employment.”
Nu-Track has issued a statement today to Belfast Telegraph in which company said “every effort has been made to avoid closure”.
"Primarily, during 2021 we committed to build over 130 vehicles for a local client who withdrew after approximately seventy vehicles had been delivered, owing a substantial debt to this company, which we are now forced to pursue in the courts.
"This, combined with public sector clients who, despite our requests, were not willing to make any payment towards their orders prior to delivery of their completed vehicles, placing an unreasonable strain on cashflow.
"Our inability to fulfil this order without customer funding resulted in the base vehicles being removed by the client, bringing an end to our shop floor production, and consequently causing job losses. On reflection we should not have entered imbalanced contracts of this type, where the customer, although a government body, had no contribution to the build cost.”
Nu-Track was previously owned by Jeff Wright, former boss of both Wrightbus and Advanced Engineering and former pastor/director of Green Pastures Church. Mr Wright's son-in-law Rob Shiels was listed as a director for Nu-Track Limited on 5 March 2019.
More recently, according to publicly available information, a PSC07 (Notice of ceasing to be a person with significant control - PSC) at Nu-Track Limited was filed with Companies House by Jeff Wright on 1 June 2022.
Other available information shows:
• A new company - ‘Multipart Distributors Ltd’, Galgorm Industrial Estate, Ballymena, registered with Rob Shiels as Director on 1 June 2022.
• Five other new companies registered with Rob Shiels as the named Director on 30 June 2022, all listed with an address at Galgorm Industrial Estate, Ballymena. These include Ulster Industries Group Limited, Workshop One Limited, Ulster Industries (Manufacturing) Limited, Ulster Industries (Vehicle Sales) Limited, and Ulster Industries (Aftercare) Limited.
• New company ‘NuQuest Limited’, Fenagh Road, Ballymena, registered with Trevor Scroggie (a senior member of the team at Nu-Track Limited) as Director on 27 August 2022.
The letter purported to be from director of Nu-Track, Rob Shiels, though yet unverified, stated:
"To All Staff
"It is with deepest regret that we give notice to all staff and employees of the permanent closure of the company effective 22nd September 2022.
"As a result of this commercial decision, all persons employed are herein given notice of their redundancy effective of the above date.
"All employees will be paid their full owing wages including holiday pay on Thursday 29 September 2022. Redundancy pay is owing to those employees that are applicable.
"The appointed Insolvency Practitioner will be in direct contact with everyone to assist in their obtaining the relevant payment. We have already been in communication with the insolvency practitioner, and we expect to have their confirmation of their willingness to represent the company withing the next 24-48 hours at which point we will notify all employees of the relevant person to communicate with.
"We are also deeply saddened to be in this difficult circumstance, and we recognise the difficulty this unavoidable situation has caused our people. Rob Shiels"
In the company's last set of accounts, it had a workforce of 65 employees.
Love Ballymena has contacted Nu-Track for comment but to date has received no response.