A WELL-KNOWN building contractor based in Winsham has shut up shop just weeks before Christmas.

KDJ Slade and Sons was founded 67 years ago by the late Ken Slade and has remained a family business since, initially through his sons Colin and Robert Slade, and more recently his grandsons Matthew and Lee Slade.

But last Tuesday the News understands more than 20 full-time employees were told not to come into work the following day.

An answer-phone message on the number listed on the company’s website says the firm has gone into liquidation and directed all enquiries to Frank Nicol at accountancy firm BDO.

Mr Nicol said a liquidator had yet to be appointed but that creditors were set to decide this following a meeting next Wednesday (December 11).

One such creditor is Lee Jeffery, director of Abbey Commercial Flooring, who says he is owed about £90,000.

“I’m a one-man band, so it has caused a difficult situation for me and I’m just trying to sort things out now,” he said.

“I think I’ll be able to carry on but it couldn’t come at a worse time just before Christmas – not that there is ever a good time to lose that much money.”

Will Stewart, of painting and decorating business WJ Stewart, says he is owed £60,000.

He said: “I’m gutted. Mine is quite a small company, so it’s going to affect me a lot. “I’m not going to go out of business but it will make things very difficult and I’m going to have to invest a lot of my own money to avoid making any of my own employees redundant.

“Fortunately, I have already paid all my contractors, but this leaves me very short for future jobs.”

Topline Glass and Glazing of Ilton is said to be owed about £30,000 by the company.

A spokesperson said: “Although we have suffered a loss as a result of KDJ Slade closing, which is going to affect our business, we are more concerned about those who have lost their jobs just before Christmas. Our thoughts are with them.”

A former employee, who did not want to be named, said some people who have just lost their jobs had worked at the company for more than 20 years and one of his former colleagues had been there 35 years.

He said: “We had no notice at all, which is shocking since it’s been done just before Christmas.

“It’s all the small people who have suffered – workers and small businesses – some of which might be forced to close as a result.”

A KDJ Slade spokesman declined to comment on the situation this week.