The new company has been established by Edward Seager, the managing director of WD Bennett, and has acquired the name, goodwill, contracts and debtor book of WD Bennett.

It has a fleet of 50 tower cranes, including Liebherr, Potain and Jost models, which equates to a fleet size reduction of more than 60% on WD Bennett. Seager said this has moved the number of cranes “in line with the work that we’ve got. Our utilisation level was low but is now quite high.”

Bennetts has also maintained 31 of the existing 35-person workforce, which Seager described as one of the most positive aspects.

“We’ve got a modern fleet and we hope to be able to provide customers with a good service,” said Seager.

WD Bennett was recently convicted of breaching workplace health and safety regulations after an accident in 2005 killed two workers on a construction site in Worthing, East Sussex (Cranes Today, April 2009).

Seager said the court case had not caused WB Bennett’s downfall as it was already “doomed financially”, with more money going out than coming in. “It just wasn’t a sustainable business.”

WD Bennett had been hit hard by the downturn in business caused by the global recession, he said, “which has been pretty brutal and pretty quick”.

“We’d invested heavily in modernising our fleet from 2004 to 2008, reducing its age from about 15 years to around four,” Seager said.

“At the time most manufacturers had a lead-time of about two years for cranes which meant we still had cranes on order that we had to take when the downturn occurred.

“I estimate the number of cranes in use in the UK has gone down by half in the last six to nine months which means we had a modern fleet with half as much business.”