Forrest has stopped work on Citu NQ, an 183-apartment scheme in central Manchester, and will be replaced by Domis, the contractor set up by the Bolton-based company’s former boss Lee McCarren.
Citu NQ, being built on the site of a former car park opposite Afflecks Palace, was cited as one of the problem contracts that could cause a £2m loss at the troubled contractor, which was forced this week to deny it was about to appoint administrators.
Place North West first revealed on Monday that Domis was being lined up to take over the project, and the scheme’s developer Salboy has now confirmed the appointment of the company set up by McCarren in April last year following his exit from Forrest.
A spokesperson from Salboy said: “After Forrest ceased work on the site, we can confirm that Salboy will be calling on the services of our own contracting arm, DOMIS, to complete the work. It is important that we now try to recover some of the time lost for the benefit of our purchasers.”
The scheme is around a third complete with the steel frame already erected and some cladding now put in place; its original completion date was set for the first quarter of 2019, according to marketing material.
The apartments at Citu NQ have primarily been marketed for overseas investors, and the development is almost fully sold. Apartments have been marketed from £190,000 for a one-bed, and £250,000 for a two-bed.
Rumours first emerged that Forrest was in financial difficulty late last week, and on Monday the company’s finance director confirmed it was looking at a refinancing deal following what the company said was “a number of challenges on a number of projects”.
Domis is already delivering a number of projects for Fred Done’s property companies including The Crescent in Salford, featuring 392 apartments, and Trinity, which features two residential towers off Trinity Way.
The company is profitable, having reported a turnover of £23.8m and a pre-tax profit of £3m for its contracting business for the year to 30 April 2018.
Lee McCarren left Forrest last year after the company unearthed a pre-tax loss of £26m, which it said was down to accounting “errors”. The company had previously reported a pre-tax profit of £3.6m in 2015 but this was revised heavily downwards to a pre-tax loss of £19.2m. This was followed by a £6.8m loss for the year to 29 February 2016.
Following this, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority agreed to step in with a £2m finance package to keep the contractor afloat. The GMCA was a new lender to the group replacing the Royal Bank of Scotland. At the time, Palatine Private Equity remained as majority shareholder, alongside Lloyds Development Capital.
Mark Nicholson, Carillion’s former managing director of building for the North, Midlands, South West, and Scotland, took over as chief executive in September 2017.
A spokesperson from Forrest confirmed the company was working with Salboy to “mutually agree an exit from the site” but said this was “yet to be finalised”.