Grenfell Tower refurbishment practice Studio E Architects Ltd has entered voluntary liquidation, owing more than £140,000 to creditors
The company, which earlier this year took the stand at the official inquiry into the 2017 fire at the west London building, appointed Alan Clark of Carter Clark as liquidator at the end of April.
Documents filed at Companies House show that Studio E Architects Ltd owed four employees a total of £19,115 as of 14 April.
It also owed £68,775 to the Department of Employment as well as more than £10,000 in rent. It listed almost £80,000 in trade and expense creditors.
Balancing against these and other liabilities was a sum expected from HMRC of around £48,000.
No assets were available to unsecured creditors, and the total estimated deficiency to creditors was £142,412.
Earlier this year architects and designers from Studio E came under intense scrutiny at the second phase of the Grenfell Tower inquiry over its role on the job to renovate the skyscraper.
Questions were asked about how the company, which admitted it could not afford legal representation for the public inquiry, had secured the contract, given its lack of experience in overcladding.
It emerged that Studio E had landed the project for Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) on the back of its work for the local council on the linked Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre (KALC).
Witnesses went on to tell the inquiry that the practice had agreed to defer a portion of its fees on the Grenfell job so that the bill for its stages A-D work would be under the £174,000 OJEU procurement threshold, meaning it would not need to go out to competitive tender.
Practice co-founder Andrzej Kuszell also admitted in the witness box that the practice had no experience in overcladding or refurbishing a high-rise block, nor on high-rise residential projects in general, when it took on the Grenfell Tower scheme.
The inquiry is currently on hold owing to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, though its organisers hope physical hearings will be able to resume in July.
However, in a statement posted on Tuesday (19 May), the inquiry panel said it would not be making any firm prediction about when it could restart ‘limited attendance hearings’.
Studio E Architects Limited was formed in 1994. A separate company, Studio E Limited Liability Partnership, was registered in 2007, commenced trading in 2011 and was wound up in 2014, owing creditors more than £200,000.
The Grenfell Tower commission was originally on the books of Studio E Limited Liability Partnership when the practice began working on the scheme in 2012.
But, when the Limited Liability Partnership went into voluntary liquidation in August 2014, some of its staff, assets and the Grenfell Tower contract were subsequently taken on by Studio E Architects Ltd which, until last month, had continued trading.
At its largest in 2008, Studio E Architects Limited employed about 45 staff. According to Kuszell’s inquiry evidence, that number had dropped to 12 by March 2017.