BRITAIN’S oldest shipping company has gone into liquidation after seeing sales sink by more than £8m despite the sale of its last vessel in July.
Newcastle-based Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd, which was founded in 1730, has gone into liquidation with the loss of nine jobs.
The bulk cargo ship operator says the economic downturn had a major effect on business and the market was one of the worst experienced for many years.
Over the last two years, the company has tried to reduce its costs and sold its fleet of vessels in a desperate bid for much-needed revenue.
But with no improvement in sight, a decision was made to wind up the firm and Tait Walker, of Newcastle, were appointed as liquidators.
A spokesman for Stephenson Clarke Shipping said: “It is with great regret the company has had to cease trading.
“Management and staff have worked extremely hard to manage the position to minimise the impact on stakeholders by working with professional advisers to ensure an orderly and controlled wind down of the company, which resulted in the sale of the last vessel in July.
“Whilst previous economic downturns have been weathered, the current market is one of the worst experienced for many years with no upturn forecast for at least 12 to 18 months.”
Allan Kelly of Tait Walker said: “The prolonged global economic downturn has seen the shipping market severely impacted through excess market capacity and low freight income, which together with the broader economic recession left little alternative but to place Stephenson Clarke Shipping into liquidation.”
The firm, which traded from Eldon Court, in Percy Street, Newcastle, was established when King George II was on the throne.