Hundreds may lose as Illawarra builder collapses

The Bellambi Bunnings site recently. Andrew Marks, Bunnings general manager property said, “we are working with a number of sub-contractors to complete the remaining construction works". Picture: File image
The Bellambi Bunnings site recently. Andrew Marks, Bunnings general manager property said, “we are working with a number of sub-contractors to complete the remaining construction works". Picture: File image

More than 200 creditors could be out of pocket by up to $6 million due to a prominent local building company’s financial woes. 

Edwards Constructions (NSW) Pty Ltd - which was building the new Bellambi Bunnings - went into administration earlier this month.

An administrator estimated that the company owed “between $4 million and $6 million of creditors”.

On Friday, affected local businesses met with voluntary administrators from Ernst and Young for the first time.

Read more: Builder burnt one too many times

Prior to the meeting, held at the Novotel Northbeach, Cadifern Civil director Helen Reilly, whose Illawarra company had the contract for the Bellambi site’s external roadworks, said she was likely to be $180,000 out of pocket.

“I’m really hoping that Edwards would do the right thing,” she said. “Even if it meant a personal hit for him that he wouldn’t bring us all down with him.

“We’re not a huge company. All our staff live and work in the Illawarra, and it would be a big impact on us if we were to go down by that amount. In a business our size, cash flow is the blood pumping through your veins.”

Another contractor who did fencing work for the Bunnings, Michael Coleman of Colemans Group, estimated they could be facing a debt somewhere between $68,000 and $170,000.

Edwards Constructions has been in operation since 1981, and has completed a number of high-profile Illawarra developments, including the Wollongong Courthouse and Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre.

Builder and director of the troubled company, Bruce Edwards declined to comment when approached by the Mercury on Friday. 

One of the administrators, Aaron Torline, said the company went into administration on October 3 “as they were experiencing cash flow issues”.

“The administrators are working with the company and making an assessment of its viability… We’re working to put together a restructure proposal,” he said.

“The meeting went well… The debtors obviously understand the position and they’re going to await our major report on the outcome.”

Mr Torline said the total amount owed was uncertain, but it would likely be “between $4 million and $6 million of creditors”. 

Edwards’ money troubles do not appear to have affected the construction at the Bellambi Bunnings site.

Bunnings general manager property Andrew Marks said he was aware of the voluntary administration. 

“We are working with a number of sub-contractors to complete the remaining construction works,” Mr Marks said.

“The warehouse is almost complete and expected to open late October.”

The company referenced in this story is not to be confused with A W Edwards Pty Limited, a Sydney- based construction company whose managing director is another Bruce Edwards.