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79 jobs go as Laurence Scott enters administration

14 May, 2007

The Norwich motor-maker Laurence Scott & Electromotors (LSE) has been placed into administration after running into cashflow problems. The corporate recovery specialist Kroll has been appointed as administrator and has made 79 of the company’s 197-strong workforce redundant as it seeks a buyer to take over the business as a going concern.

Laurence Scott’s latest crisis comes just three years after US business man, George Clair, stepped into rescue the company from planned closure by its former owner, FKI. He paid £4.1m for the business. Although order books are said to be strong, the company is reported to have run into problems with one large creditor.

Kroll is continuing to run the business and hopes to find a buyer within a few weeks.

One problem looming for any potential purchaser is that when Clair bought LSE, he agreed to lease the valuable four-hectare Gothic Works site, close to Norwich City football ground, from FKI for three years. The lease runs out next April, so LSE would need to find new premises by then.

Last year, Clair announced plans to set up a multi-million dollar production plant in Louisiana, in the heartland of the US oil and gas industry which is the main market for LSE’s HV motors. He was planning to build the 9,300m2 facility on the site of a former US Air Force base in the area ravaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Clair said he had been offered a $50m long-term tax-free bond to help it establish the US facility, which was expected to create at least 50 jobs and to start production this year.

LSE – whose brands include Heenan, TASC, Neco, EC and Glenphase – dates back to 1883, when William Harding Scott built a dynamo for Colmans, the Norwich mustard-maker. With backing from Reginald Laurence, the company expanded to provide power stations for Norwich and Ipswich and even laid the distribution networks to consumers in those towns. The Gothic Works motors and generators plant opened in 1896.

In 1927, the company amalgamated with Manchester-based Electromotors to form LSE. In its heyday during the 1960s, LSE employed more than 3,000 people, making it Norwich’s biggest employer of manual labour.

LSE motors were used on the Titanic, in Trident submarines, and to bore the Channel Tunnel. Technologies that it helped to pioneer included totally-enclosed fan-cooled motors, water-cooled flameproof motors, marine motors, and steel-framed industrial motors. LSE’s design department is even credited with having developed the mechanism that became the traffic light.

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