Easdale brothers in line to save Ferguson shipyard

SANDY and James Easdale, the owners of McGill’s Buses, have expressed an interest in taking on a struggling shipbuilder after it went into administration.

James Easdale, far left, and Sandy Easdale, far right, are positioning themselves to take over Ferguson shipyard. Picture: Robert Perry

A bus firm has expressed an interest in taking on a struggling shipbuilder after it went into administration.

A total of 70 people were made redundant immediately last week when it was announced that the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde,had gone into administration.

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Brothers Sandy and James Easdale, the owners of McGill’s Buses, say they may be able to provide a lifeline for the yard, which was the last commercial shipbuilder on the River Clyde.

The businessmen have expressed an interest in saving the firm, which has a 110-year history on the Clyde.

The administrators said a lack of orders, combined with cashflow problems, had forced the company into administration.

Sandy Easdale said: “We have contacted the administrators, KPMG, through our accountants. This is a highly-skilled workforce and it is a vital business for our area.

“With government assistance, both in Edinburgh and London, I am sure we can secure orders.”

It came as Scottish finance secretary John Swinney visited the yard to see what assistance the Scottish Government could provide. He has set up a taskforce to help workers affected by the administration.

Workers expressed their disappointment after the announcement was made at the end of last week.

Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and head of restructuring for KPMG in Scotland, said then that the shipbuilder was a “leading name in the industry with a rich heritage dating back more than 110 years”.

But he admitted that its “lack of financial strength” had effectively “hindered its ability to secure new vessel contracts from its core customer base”.

He added: “A lack of significant orders and mounting cashflow pressure has led to the group’s inability to continue trading.”

Mr Swinney and Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe led a task force meeting to discuss the future of the ailing shipyard.

Afterwards the two politicians released a statement in which they pledged to “do everything in our power to secure a future for Ferguson’s and its employees”.

They said: “Our priority is to attract a new investor who will take the shipyard forward as a going concern. There are still orders to be completed and we will work with the administrator to try to secure this outcome.

“This is a highly-skilled workforce and it is essential that these skills are put to productive use in the future.

“The Scottish Government, its agencies and Inverclyde Council are working to secure the welfare of people employed at Ferguson’s shipyard and will provide ongoing public sector support.

“The Scottish Government has well-established arrangements to help people in these circumstances and we will do everything we can to ensure people get access to the support that they need at what is an extremely difficult time.”