Dozens of jobs lost as St Helens Chamber closes

Majority of 71 staff lose their jobs at St Helens Chamber as it collapses into administration and closes with ‘immediate effect’. Tony McDonough reports

St Helens Chamber
St Helens Chamber has closed with immediate effect


St Helens Chamber has closed with “immediate effect” after collapsing into administration with the majority of its 71 staff made redundant. 

On Thursday administrators Jason Bell and Philip Stephenson from Grant Thornton took control of the business and will manage its affairs on behalf of creditors.

Primarily a membership and training organisation, the chamber cited a “perfect storm” of reductions in Government funding, difficulties in generating a surplus from external services and the nationwide fall in office values for its demise.

Its most recent annual accounts, covering the year to March 31, 2023, actually showed a slight increase in revenues to £5.7m However, its pre-tax losses more than doubled to £268,000.

In the accounts the chamber blamed a “correction of an overclaim” on one of its contracts due to a timetabling error. This led to a full internal review.

In August 2023 chief executive Tracy Mawson announced the chamber was seeking a contractor for the refurbishment of the second floor of its headquarters in Salisbury Street.

And in June 2023 it put a surplus building in the town centre on the market with a price tag of £350,000. 4-6 Hardshaw Street is a four-storey building acquired by the chamber 22 years ago.

Discussions are under way with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to find new training providers for 260 apprentices. The chamber says it is exploring options with other providers to support the 30 young people on its own study programmes.

All students have been notified of the move and the options open to them. Clients and suppliers have also been informed.

British Chambers of Commerce is now assessing the situation to determine the best possible option to continue offering chamber benefits to the St Helens business community.


Tracy Mawson
Tracy Mawson, chief executive of St Helens Chamber


A spokesperson for the chamber said: “The chamber has faced a perfect storm of unique funding issues and wider difficult economic conditions, which have led to a reduced demand for our tailored services.

“An unexpected and substantial drop in the value of our office building, due to a post-COVID slump in property demand, made the challenges insurmountable.

“Added to that, the move from EU funding streams to the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund had also hampered us, with significant impacts on both cashflow and profitability.

“Despite these issues, our skilled and committed staff have worked incredibly hard to continue providing services to our members and trainees, and this has been a very difficult decision to make.

“Our various stakeholders have been hugely loyal, likewise, and we are very grateful for their support.”

The administrators’ employee assistance team is now providing help to staff seeking new employment.

Tenants of the Chamber’s office building on Salisbury Street will be able to remain in occupation and building management staff are to be retained to ensure a full service to occupiers and their visitors.

You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Username field is empty.