COMMUNITY leaders have spoken of their "devastation" at the collapse of a long-standing Helensburgh firm - and the jobs that have been lost as a result.

Construction and building services firm Stewart & Shields went into liquidation on Tuesday, and all the firm's 15 staff were ade redundant.

The family-owned company in East King Street has operated for more than 60 years, but faced significant cashflow issues from contract delays, rising material costs and skills shortages, provisional liquidators said.

As well as working on social housing and local authority projects, it also did Helensburgh's the Bridge at the Parish Church and the Park Pavilion.

Wendy Hamilton, Helensburgh area representative with the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "It is very concerning to hear another long-standing local business has collapsed with the loss of 15 jobs.

"The closure of Stewart & Shields will negatively impact the company’s local trading partners, and all those local businesses who benefitted from the spending power of the now redundant employees will also, in turn, feel the loss.

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"The success of our small town as a thriving place to live and work, depends on strong trading connections between all businesses; if one business fails, the ripples of failure impact us all. Our thoughts are with the employees."

And Vivien Dance, of Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is devasting news - another family enterprise forced out of business by external forces over which management had no control.

"It's very sad news indeed for Helensburgh.

"Our thoughts are with all the staff and management who have lost their livelihoods. We really do feel for you and cannot imagine the stress and anxiety this will be bringing to you all.

"Stewart & Shields has been a feature of our business community for decades, they were recognised as tradesmen who brought high standards to the construction industry and they leave behind examples of their expertise across a wide area.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Stewart &Shields built a Passivhaus development in GarelochheadStewart &Shields built a Passivhaus development in Garelochhead (Image: Web)

"We are indeed fortunate to have two of their recent projects, the Bridge at the Parish Church and the Park Pavilion, to enjoy on a daily basis, testimony to the quality of the firm’s building legacy.

"When a family firm is forced to close after 60 years in the town we lose not only their construction skills acquired over decades but a business that supported the town in so many ways. "

The firm secured contracts for building work across Scotland, with local projects in recent years including the renovation of the Drumfork Community Centre in Churchill and the completion of 10 new 'Passivhaus' energy-efficient homes in Garelochhead for Argyll Community Housing Association.

Mrs Dance added: "Stewart & Shields has always supported local charities and projects in the town, particularly those associated with children.

"Their kindness and generosity as a company helped so many over the years and we are indeed lucky to have had the company and the management as very active members of our community.

"We will miss you and so will Helensburgh - our sincere best wishes to all of you for the future."

Joint provisional liquidators Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden from Interpath Advisory said on Tuesday that firm had a strong order book despite the challenges after the pandemic.

The provisional liquidators said they are providing support to help employees affected submit redundancy claims and ensure they can access the support services of agencies Partnership Action for Continuing Employment.

Mr Nimmo said: “The collapse of Stewart and Shields Limited is another indicator of the challenges and economic headwinds currently facing the Scottish construction sector.

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"The directors fought hard to save this long-standing family-run business, but the construction industry has experienced several challenges over recent years, with rising raw material costs, supply chain disruption and labour challenges putting businesses under increased pressure.”

Mr McAlinden added: “Our priority is to assist those members of staff who have been made redundant, providing them with the information and support they need to claim their statutory entitlements from the Redundancy Payments Office, as well as to support the owners, for whom this is also a very difficult time.”

Helensburgh's MSP, Jackie Baillie, said it was "incredibly sad news" and described the company as "an important feature of our local economy for many years".

Ms Baillie added: “My thoughts are with the staff who have lost their jobs at such a difficult time financially, during a cost-of-living crisis.

"I hope they are given the support they need to go on to find other employment and secure any financial assistance which is available.”