Call us on: 0333 939 80 40

Email us: Ask@BusinessRescueExpert.co.uk

CONTACT US

Stopwatch

The Twilight Zone was an innovative and groundbreaking TV science fiction and mystery series made in the 1950s and 60s.   

It’s been rebooted several times but some of its most famous episodes have been updated and parodied so much that they become part of the general culture. 

So much so that the original moral of these stories tends to get washed out and forgotten in the retelling. 

One great example of this is the story of “a kind of stopwatch” that was remade as a film called Clockstoppers and as a part of The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror halloween specials. 

Both in the original and in the Simpsons version - a man or Bart and Milhouse acquire a stopwatch with one unusual extra feature - it can be used to stop time itself. 

Like previous owners, they misuse the power, it breaks and while they ultimately repair it they remain marooned in time for several years. 

The moral is that while it might be nice to stop time, it can’t be done permanently and time eventually moves on and catches up with us. 

But what if you could pause time for long enough to give you space to work on ways to improve the financial outlook for your company or that could stop or freeze creditors actions while you arrange advice and assistance so that when they restart, your business would be in a stronger position to engage with them?

An Insolvency Moratorium might be the answer you’ve been looking for. 

It allows businesses to have an enclosed legal breathing space away from creditors’ recovery actions like winding up petitions or bailiff visits while a recovery plan is formed. 

This will restructure the company's debts and give creditors more chance of ultimately being repaid rather than seeing the company go into liquidation with the increased risk of not receiving repayment. 

When first granted, an insolvency moratorium automatically lasts for 20 working days.

This can be subsequently extended for another 20 business days if required with more extensions available for complex cases and only with the consent of creditors themselves. 

An insolvency moratorium is different from administration or a creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL) in several ways. 

The company directors remain in control of the business and continue to run it on a day to day basis but a monitor is appointed to make sure that all conditions are being adhered to. 

Of course the business also has to keep on paying any rent, employment entitlements or any liabilities that come from financial service contracts and the monitor’s fees and expenses - although this is agreed in advance.   


Businesses with bounce back loan borrowing are being stopped from closing - find out how you can still do it here


What happens when a moratorium ends and time restarts?
Depending on various factors there are several ways an insolvency moratorium can be resolved. 

The business raises new funds and investment from shareholders or directors own funds, or it could include a business loan secured with the aim of consolidating existing company debts into manageable payments. 

A CVA is arranged with the creditors approval and the business continues trading and making regular monthly payments to creditors in return for being allowed to continue to trade and a proportion of existing debt being wiped.

Preferably after taking professional advice, the directors or business owner reach an informal payment plan with their creditors to begin paying down the debt. Additionally, if tax arrears are owed then a formal Time to Pay arrangement could be reached with HMRC. 
Missing repayments for both could have serious consequences so should only be entered into carefully. 

Sadly not every business can be saved even with an insolvency moratorium. If the debt and other issues prove to be insurmountable then the moratorium is ended and the business enters administration or liquidation


“If you knew time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting it” - Alice through the looking glass

Rules are changing at the end of September for winding up petitions and several other instruments including the final end of the furlough scheme.

The end of the year is in sight and the remaining weeks and months should be spent trying to regain momentum and build up to the best Christmas trading period for at least two years. 

But what if you’re struggling with deciding which repayments to miss or trying to raise enough liquidity to make the minimum costs needed to avoid running up arrears for bounce back loans or other borrowing?

Even before thinking about an insolvency moratorium or other procedure, you should get in touch with us. 

We offer a free initial consultation for any director or business owner who needs some impartial, expert advice on what they can do to help get their business back in shape for a hectic end-of-year period. 

You could have more options than you think and if you’ve acted quickly, could even start to implement them and see results very soon. 

However time will continue to tick by and if you don’t use it wisely then you could still have the same or worse difficulties later but without the time to fix them. 

Which not even a magic stopwatch could help you with.

Extra Lives

The ones that if solved or removed, would be a launchpad for the success that would likely follow because all the other fundamentals are strong. 

It’s a problem video gamers come up against quite often. 

They face a seemingly-impossible end of level boss that no matter what strategy they try, they cannot defeat and get past. 

Countless hours have been invested and the familiar but rarely sincere “just one more go” has been invoked more than once but the only certainty has been the same negative result. 

In the age of Youtube, Twitch, Discord and even gaming performance coaches - there are more ways to find this assistance - amateur and professional - than ever before so they can proceed towards their final goal. 

Which brings us back to businesses in the same situation - where’s their solution and video guide to get them past their immediate insurmountable hurdle and help them to literally level up?

The good news is that it’s far easier to find than asking a bigger kid in an arcade to do it for them. 

An administrator can be their extra life and give the company the fresh start it’s been reaching for - preserving jobs and giving the business a power up just when it needs it - but it does come with risks. 



To clarify, administration is a formal, legal insolvency process that places an external manager - the administrator - temporarily in charge of a business with the aim of turning its fortunes around and saving the company. 

This is a serious decision that can have ultimate consequences for a business so should not be entered into lightly or without getting professional advice first to see if it is the most appropriate course of action. 

If this is the case then administration is a proven method of helping otherwise viable businesses restructure and regroup before reemerging stronger than before the administrator takes temporary charge. 

Another important point to remember is that the administrator represents the interest of the company’s creditors at all times, not the management.  

They’re there to make sure creditors can see the best possible return on their expenditure. If that’s through returning the business to profitable trading then they will pursue that option. 

If it’s selling the business under a pre-pack arrangement to new management then that will be their chosen course and if the last recourse to secure their money is through liquidating the business and selling the company’s assets off to generate the best return - then they’ll do it.

Once an administrator is officially appointed they will produce a recovery plan which will always be based on repaying as many debts as possible and looking at ways money can be saved in the immediate and short term to reach the goal of saving the company. 

They will be aided by an insolvency moratorium applying immediately which halts all creditor actions, giving the administrator time to put their plans together. 

Administration is not an open-ended situation that will be allowed to continue permanently.  

A creditors meeting must be held within ten weeks of the administration being entered where they will outline their proposals and their recommendations.  

Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding the business - its asset portfolio, cash flow and banking situation - they will inform the creditors what the most realistic outcome will be and what the plan is to achieve it.  

This may even involve redundancies or other cutbacks in the short term. 


Outcomes

An administration can end in several different outcomes depending on the circumstances and future viability: 

The moratorium could give the administrator enough time to solve the immediate financial issues through raising extra funds through asset sales, new investment or informal agreements reached with creditors to settle existing debts.
If this happens then it’s mission accomplished - the administrator hands back the business to the directors who will continue to run the company. 
Now free of the financial problems that originally burdened the business. 

An administration might not be the only insolvency procedure the administrator needs to employ depending on the circumstances. 
If the debt is particularly difficult to restructure and is the main obstacle to the business trading profitably in future then they might decide that a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is the best option to pursue.
Creditors are approached to see if they will accept a regular, monthly payment from the business in return for writing off a proportion of the overall debt.  
This will usually be in their interests as they will stand to gain more from the payments than through any other method including asset sales following liquidation.  
If agreed, the directors resume control of the business and it resumes trading with the new CVA payment agreement in place. 

The business might be made viable once again but it might fare better under new management or owners bringing fresh ideas, energy and investment. 
The administrator will market the business for sale immediately and conclude the deal while the business is still protected by the insolvency moratorium.  
The existing directors might even be part of the ownership teams depending on circumstances but once the deal is concluded and the new management is in place then the administrator hands back control to this group and exits. 

Sadly the debt and problems of the company might be insurmountable for even the best administrator and the only viable way forward will be to close the business down through a creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL) process. 
The business is closed down in an orderly fashion and it’s assets and property are sold off with the returns going to pay off creditors in legal order of precedence. 
Because the business will already be in administration before the liquidation process begins, most assets will already have been sold prior to this so once a CVL is entered into, the funds can begin to be distributed to creditors. 


In the battlefield of giving business owners and directors the chance to fight another day, it’s our call of duty to give them the best advice and support possible. 

We don’t claim to have a halo but if you get in touch and arrange a free initial consultation with one of our expert advisors, we’ll let you know which options and strategies would have the best mass effect on your company’s chances of recovery and renewal.

Business life is strange and unpredictable so we’ll help you go through the gears when it comes to implementing any changes you need to. It’s a far cry from leaving you to manage on your own but an essential part of our service.

If it’s time to reboot your approach, do it with a Business Rescue Expert by your side.

wet summer

Technically it’s supposed to be the summer holiday season but we’ve seen precious little of that. 

The main headlines this month see a few well-known firms in the construction industry entering administration while others look to close efficiently through liquidation.


How bounce back loan repayments can affect sole traders and partnerships too 


KEO Films pre pack deal
The TV production company KEO films co-founded by presenter and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been bought out in a pre pack administration deal by Passion Pictures after declaring itself insolvent. 
KEO films produced popular and award-winning shows such as “Hugh’s War on Waste '' and “Easy Ways to Live Well” and described itself as having a strong ethical brand reputation. It’s latest acclaimed documentary series to screen was “Once Upon a Time in Iraq” broadcast by the BBC. 
The directors declared they were unable to put enough money into the business to maintain it as a going concern with the impact of the coronavirus proving terminal. 
The deal has secured 20 jobs in the business and the new owners are voluntarily looking to repay as much of the debts KEO films owed to creditors before it went into administration. 
Will Anderson of KEO Films said: “We are trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation and are trying to come to arrangements with people where we can.”
While not all of the old company’s debts could be repaid, the new owners have made offers to repay the majority of freelance employees in full.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall stepped down as a director once the deal had been completed but continued to make programmes with the company under the new ownership.

Formaplex pre pack administration
Formaplex - a major manufacturer with four sites in Hampshire - which supplied lightweight plastic components to the automotive, motorsport, aerospace, medical and defence markets was bought out by new owners this month in a pre-pack administration
The 20-year-old business was rebranded as Formaplex Technologies by its new owners and 110 posts were lost during the process.
A spokesperson for the ownership group said: “While positive progress had been made, to secure the long-term future of Formaplex, the business needed to take further steps to strengthen its balance sheet.
“As a result, Formaplex Ltd was placed into administration and we agreed to purchase the business and assets of the company from the administrators on the same day through a procedure known as a pre-pack administration. 
“There has been a seamless transition of customers and employees to a new business, Formaplex Technologies. We have secured the support of all the major customers and an experienced new CEO has been appointed.”

Minster construction closes
Mansfield-based Minster Building Company went into administration with 26 staff losing their jobs. 
First formed in 2007, Minster specialised in constructing supported living facilities for vulnerable citizens but due to delays in planning and construction processes due to the pandemic combined with price increases in building materials meant that most of their current projects became significantly loss-making. 
All work ceased on their various work sites from the East Midlands to the North East.
A spokesperson said: “It’s a great shame that a long-established construction business has been laid low by the knock on effects of the Coronavirus crisis. 
“Not only have jobs been lost and suppliers left nursing substantial losses, but the vulnerable people who would have been housed in the properties being built by the Company will suffer as a result of the inevitable delays in completing these projects.
“The UK construction sector is facing acute difficulties as a result of the pandemic and the severe disruption it has caused to its operational processes, supply chains and labour resources. Sadly, Minster will not be the last failure in this vital industry.”

Garrandale
Garrandale, an engineering company based in Derby, has gone into administration
The 45-year-old business began designing equipment to help streamline manufacturing in the automotive, healthcare, oil and gas sectors. In the 1980s they began manufacturing production equipment for railway carriages and continued progress working with companies such as AEA Technology and Bombardier working on a system that prevented train wheels from slipping.  
The company’s expertise was also sought to help build the Hadron Collider and work on the Ariane space rocket used by the European Space Agency but has now officially gone into administration with the loss of approx. 70 positions. 

AM Griffiths
AMG or AM Griffiths based in Wolverhampton appointed administrators earlier this month. 
The business, founded in 1899 by Arthur M Griffiths, was profitable as recently as 2020 and worked on many private and public sector projects including building many schools and hospitals and was responsible for many major landmark buildings across the Black Country.
The company was unable to secure additional work and has ceased trading altogether with the loss of 60 permanent positions.  

Six Day Series
Madison Sports Group, which staged the popular Six Day cycling series in London, Manchester and locations abroad went into administration as Covid-19 forced the cancellation of all their planned live events. 
A spokesperson said: “Madison Sports Group and Six Day are prime examples of companies with solid business models whose difficulties have been greatly exacerbated by the fallout from Covid-19. 
“With the majority of sports events closing down completely over the past year and a half, both companies' revenue generating capabilities have decreased markedly.
"Following the financial year-end and as a result of Covid-19 events have had to be postponed due to the health concerns of athletes, staff and guests and it is not possible to quantify the impact on the business, creating a material uncertainty over its future prospects.” 
Six Day launched in London in 2015 with cycling stars such as Sir Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish and has taken the format to other major cities with other stars but the enforced halt of all activities was too much for the business to survive. 

Simtom Foods
The Indian sauces manufacturer first founded in Leicester in 1977 has gone into administration with the loss of almost 100 jobs. 
The business produced a range of traditional Indian foods for both supermarkets and the foodservice industry and while they had invested heavily in recent years, growing their operations, the loss of business caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and recent labour shortages placed significant pressure on the company leading to the appointment of administrators. 
A spokesperson said: “The pandemic significantly impacted the implementation of Simtom’s strategic plans. 
“Our immediate priority is to support employees made redundant so they can make claims via the redundancy payments office and looking for potential buyers for the business.”

Glenburn Hotel
The Glenburn Hotel, built in 1843 on the Isle of Bute and billed as Scotland’s first hydropathic hotel, has closed and gone into administration with all staff being made redundant.
The hotel overlooks Rothesay Bay and was popular with businesses and holiday makers alike due to its location and extensive facilities.  
The administration has primarily been caused by significant operating costs, coupled with the fall in revenue due to the Covid pandemic whilst still having to meet significant maintenance and running costs. 
A spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, having explored all its options, the hotel was unable to survive the significant fall in revenue caused by the Covid-19 pandemic whilst still having to meet significant maintenance and running costs. 
“We will now focus our efforts on assisting employees, many of whom have worked at the hotel for many years, to submit their claims for redundancy and other sums due to them whilst preparing to market and sell the hotel. 
“Whilst this is a sad day in the Hotel’s history, this is an outstanding opportunity to acquire an iconic hotel on one of Scotland’s most accessible islands.”

Fruehauf
A Grantham based manufacturer has gone into administration with the potential loss of 100 employees. 
Fruehauf was founded in 2010 and produces a range of tipper and rigid trailers, quality control systems and techniques. 
Administrators are considering several options including a company voluntary administration (CVA) as well as a potential sale to any interested parties. 
Freuhauf produced around half of the tipping trailers sold in the UK and ongoing delays to orders had already led to a major trailer shortage across the entire supply chain. 
The business will continue to trade while in administration but this situation might exacerbate delays.

Kapex Construction
Newcastle based Kapex Construction which was involved in a number of high profile schemes in the city has appointed administrators. 
The business launched in 2016 to work on various housing schemes throughout the North East of England and employed 62 people directly last year. 
The company was recognised by RICS for its work on All Saints Church, an 18th Century Grade 1 listed building which was on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register.
The business was in profit in 2020 but the cessation of building work for the majority of the previous 18 months has proven insurmountable. 
 
O’Keefe Construction
O’Keefe Construction based in Greenwich has entered a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with its creditors after suffering significant losses in the financial year to May 2021. 
The business employs 178 has operated in London and the South East for over 50 years but took professional advice following severe cash flow challenges and are pursuing a CVA to continue trading while they restructure their debts. 
A spokesperson said: “A CVA will secure the company’s future as a going concern and allow it to continue to service its ongoing clients. 
“Crucially, a CVA will also maximise the returns to the company’s creditors, compared to alternative restructuring procedures. 
“On a successful approval of the CVA proposal, the company’s shareholders will contribute additional sums to support its short term cash flow and to ensure the business has increased liquidity levels. 
“The financial restructuring afforded by the CVA, alongside operational improvements made to the business, will ensure that O’Keefe is well placed to complete its ongoing and profitable work and to fulfil its client needs.”
CEO Patrick O’Keefe said: “The board was tasked with delivering the business out of the current difficulties and after taking specialist advice, has agreed to enter into a CVA to allow this mechanism to secure the long term success and profitability of the business.
“Thanks to our exceptional staff, our current portfolio of jobs is trading very well. The conclusion of the CVA process will immediately put the business on a positive footing.”
“The directors are optimistic regarding the future success of the company in view of the significant forward order book and improving project margins.”

  


We’re now into the last third of the year and what might be the most crucial month for businesses to get help and make essential decisions to secure their future for the rest of 2021. 

September will see bills and debts continue to mount, the furlough scheme finally coming to an end,  CBILS and bounce back loan repayments continuing to come due, defaults rising and the ban on creditor actions such as winding up petitions being lifted.

The time to get advice and hear what options your business has to manage its debt obligations including VAT arrears or bounce back loans is short so the best time to get in touch with us is today.

We’ll better understand your situation and be able to give you recommendations you can act on immediately to set plans in motion that will give you and your business the best chance of getting into 2022 and then working towards your medium and longer term goals. 

Before any of that can happen though, you need to take action - the sooner the better - because for some companies, the end of this month will be too late.  

July stats 2021

This is because they’re more susceptible to immediate fluctuations rather than gradual trends. 

The number of company insolvencies declining across the UK in July after rising for two consecutive months was still a slight surprise in the latest official monthly company insolvency statistics released by The Insolvency Service

For England and Wales, the total number of corporate insolvencies for last month was 1,094 - this was down 112 (9.3%) from the 1,207 recorded in June’s total but still 13.4% higher than the 741 recorded in July 2020. 

While both totals are still below the 1,442 recorded in July 2019, a 24% reduction for 2021, it is the third consecutive month that year-on-year figures are higher than 12 months ago - indicating a broader recovery towards pre-pandemic levels.

112 cases is a relatively small number and combined with the residual effect of the summer holiday season and the general upward trend of cases we should expect this to begin to rise by October at the latest.

The reduction in monthly cases is the first since April and with creditor actions such as statutory demands and winding up petitions due to be reintroduced at the end of September along with the widely expected withdrawal of the furlough scheme and other support measures, it’s logical to speculate that insolvency rates will be a lot higher by the end of the year.

Of the 1,094 company insolvencies recorded in July in England and Wales there were 1,007 creditors voluntary liquidations (CVLs); 41 compulsory liquidations; 40 administrations and 6 company voluntary arrangements (CVAs). Once again, there were no receivership appointments in July. 

Compulsory liquidations and administrations saw small rises from June - up three and one respectively, while there were 109 fewer CVLs and eight fewer CVAs. 

The only category that isn’t lower than its 2019 equivalent are CVLs which are at the same level. 

Additionally:- 

There were 72 company insolvencies in Scotland last month comprising 14 compulsory liquidations; 54 CVLs and four administrations. Overall these figures were 36% higher than a year ago but 26% lower than in 2019. 

Historically, compulsory liquidations have been the most common kind of insolvency registered in Scotland but since April 2020 there have been twice as many CVLs as compulsory liquidations. This has been the situation for 14 out of the preceding 15 months.

There were also 14 company insolvencies registered in Northern Ireland - 40% higher than in July 2020 but 33% lower than for July 2019. 

This was made up of one compulsory liquidation, nine CVLs and an administration. 

The overall total of UK company insolvencies for July 2021 is 1,180, an overall decrease of 115 from last month’s collective total. 


“It will take longer for the worst hit sectors to recover from the pandemic”

Colin Haig, President of R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body said: “The month on month fall in corporate insolvencies was as a result of a drop in compulsory liquidations, CVLs and CVAs. 

“However, this is the third consecutive month in which year-on-year corporate insolvency levels have risen, which reflects the effect the pandemic has had on the business community. 

“The 70.4% increase in CVLs this month compared to July 2020 suggests an increasing number of directors have decided to close their business after spending a year trying to survive the pandemic. 

“Although government support has continued to provide a lifeline for many businesses which would otherwise have struggled in an economic climate like this, this July was still a challenging month. 

“The delay in lifting the final restrictions will have hit trading, footfall and spending, and a huge number of firms have spent 15 months trading in conditions that are wildly different to normal. 

“With the opening up of the economy, consumer confidence at pre-pandemic levels, and spending levels higher than they were in 2019 the future does look more optimistic. Having said that, it will take longer for the worst hit sectors to recover from the pandemic. 

“SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, but many have been badly affected by the pandemic. The restructuring community is better placed than ever to help them and other organisations with financial worries, but if directors leave it too late to ask for help, they will have fewer rescue or recovery options open to them.”


We couldn’t agree more. 

One of the main advantages of getting in touch with us and arranging a free initial consultation is the earlier a director or business owner does it, the more options they will have available for their company.

Depending on their goals and ambitions for the business, either restructuring the business and its debts are appropriate or if there is no viable way forward in the immediate future then there are several efficient ways to close the business down instead.

No matter what direction you want to go in, there will be an insolvency procedure to achieve it but only if you get in touch. 

Creditors will be allowed to begin recovery actions in only a few weeks so you can be sure they will be keen to exercise their options as soon as they can. 

Make sure you use this time to exercise yours. 

life presever

Firstly, as we’ve written previously, the furlough scheme introduced under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will begin to be phased out from July 1st. 

This means that businesses' contributions to their furloughed staff’s wages will increase from 5% to 14% to include a greater share of the national insurance and pension costs. 

Businesses that successfully obtained a VAT deferral on payments from 2020 will now have to begin repaying them, while many companies that took out borrowing under the bounce back loan scheme or CBILS will see their repayments come due for the first time if they arrange to defer them six months. 

It’s worse news for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors too as they lose their business rates exemptions, even while some of them remain closed and unable to trade until July 19th at the very earliest. 

The government confirmed that winding up petitions will still be temporarily suspended until September 30th but interestingly, wrongful trading suspensions will resume. 


What is the difference between wrongful trading and fraudulent trading?


Wrongful trading, or trading while insolvent, should be a concern for directors because as well as disqualification, they could also be held personally liable for any debts the business incurs during this period. 

The leeway this suspension granted directors has now disappeared and if a business can’t pay its debts when they come due or if their liabilities exceed total assets then they run the risk of wrongful trading and the potential penalties it carries. 

Another temporary measure being allowed to lapse involves termination clauses. 

This has stopped suppliers from ceasing their supply or asking for any additional payments or security from a business that is undergoing a restructuring or administration process. 

All of this might indicate a looming crisis for some companies but Chris Horner, insolvency director with Business Rescue Expert, thinks it can be the perfect window of opportunity, if they move quickly enough to take advantage. 

He said: “Directors and business owners have approximately 12 weeks until September 30th when they can take a positive decision to secure the best chance of future prosperity of their companies.

“They will have to move quickly before winding up petitions and other threats such as HMRC enforcement actions and visits from bailiffs become a possibility but they will have a range of options available to them depending on the individual circumstances they’re facing. 

“Whether they ultimately decide to close the business through a liquidation process or if an administration or a CVA are more appropriate, all are able to accommodate businesses with PAYE or other tax arrears, bounce back loan or CBILS debt and other unmanageable corporate debt. 

“This also applies to businesses that could be at threat from termination clauses being invoked. Construction companies for example that rely on the guaranteed availability of materials could quickly find themselves in difficulties if suppliers start to use their newly restored rights. 

“Otherwise profitable businesses could find themselves trading while insolvent through no fault of their own but due to the actions of a supplier. If this happened within this 12 week window of opportunity, they would be able to use the circumstances to their advantage to come up with the best recovery strategy.”

If there’s one lesson the past 18 months have taught us, it’s that things can change very quickly. 

As the coronavirus support measures begin to be withdrawn, it provides possibly the last opportunity for business owners and directors to get active in their own rescue and make decisions before they’re forced to, under less favourable circumstances. 

Start by getting in touch with us. 

We’ll arrange a free, initial consultation where, once we get a better understanding of your situation, we can outline your options and begin working with you on a plan to implement them quickly, efficiently and effectively. 

Then you might be able to finally enjoy the summer. 

rainy June

For what started with great fanfare June is turning out to be something of a damp squib for businesses. 

The remaining coronavirus restrictions were due to be lifted on June 21st but it quickly became apparent in the days and weeks beforehand that not only was this not going to happen but that the next earliest reopening date will be another month away. 

The ongoing uncertainty coupled with the effects of restrictions and changes to life, work and industry still rippling through the country after 18 months of the pandemic means that it was the end of the line for some companies.  

For others they might have used insolvency procedures like a CVA or an insolvency moratorium to buy some time or begin to rebuild their businesses. 

Whatever they decided - you can find out about it here.


What are the pros and cons of closing a limited company?


Oxford University Press

A piece of world literary history is coming to an end as Oxford University Press, the publishing arm of Oxford University who published their first works in 1586, is closing its physical printing operation Oxuniprint. 

20 jobs will be lost in a move caused by “a continued decline in sales which has been exacerbated by factors relating to the pandemic.”

A spokesperson said: “This decision follows a recent business review of our operations. This has not been an easy decision for us, and we thank the team for the support and dedication to OUP, and their clients, over the years.”


Lloyds Bank and Halifax

Lloyds Banking Group which owns the Lloyds Bank and Halifax brands has announced they will be closing an additional 44 branches across England and Wales this year. 

29 of the branches are Lloyds and 15 are Halifax sites and will permanently close between September and November. This brings the total number of branch closures announced and will be completed in 2021 to 100. 

Vim Maru, Lloyds retail director, said: “Of the closures announced, over a third are branches situated in or around cities and large towns, with another branch very close by. 

“Our digital banking customer base has grown by over 4 million in five years to almost 18 million. This means that, like many businesses on the high street, we must change for a future where branches will be used in a different way, and visited less often.”

Lloyds confirmed that all branch transactions had dropped by at least 10% a year in the five years to March 2020 and significantly further in the year of lockdowns since. 

According to research from consumer group Which?, there have been 4,299 bank and building society closures since January 2015 which is the equivalent rate of 50 per month.


Stobart Air

Irish regional airline Stobart Air announced it was going into liquidation this month with the immediate closure of the service. 

A spokesperson said: “It is with great regret and sadness that the board is in the process of appointing a liquidator to the business and the airline is to cease operations with immediate effect. 

“This unavoidable and difficult decision means that all Aer Lingus Regional routes, currently operated by Stobart Air under its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, have been cancelled.

“Last April, Stobart Air announced that a new owner had been identified. However, it has emerged that the funding to support the transaction is no longer in place and the new owner is unable to conclude the transaction. 

“Given the continued impact of the pandemic, which has virtually halted air travel since March 2019 and in the absence of any alternative purchasers or sources of funding, the board of Stobart Air must take the necessary, unavoidable and difficult decision to seek to appoint a liquidator.

“A franchise flying partner to leading domestic and international airlines, Stobart Air has acknowledged the significant contribution, loyalty and dedication of its 480 strong team of skilled and talented aviation professionals.”

Stobart Air operated a number of regional routes including from Belfast to Edinburgh, Exeter, East Midlands, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester airports and flights to Dublin too. 


Bison Concrete

Concrete manufacturer Bison is closing its Swadlincote factory on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border as a result of a drop in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The businesses hollowcare flooring division at the same site was closed last year so the full closure will see the loss of 200 jobs. 

A spokesperson said: “Over the last year there have been changes in demand for certain construction products. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic served to compound an already challenging situation for our bespoke precast concrete products division. The operation had struggled to make a profit for a number of years and following the completion of the Leicester prison project, no further opportunities were secured. 

“When the high site overheads are also taken into consideration, regrettably it means that this facility is no longer sustainable. The only option that could enable profitability is to permanently close Swadlincote and consolidate our offering into another site.” 


Ockbrook School 

One of the oldest private schools in the UK will close after becoming insolvent. 

Ockbrook school in Derbyshire was first founded in 1799 and will shut its doors for the final time on Friday 9th July. 

The school wrote to parents to say “It is with great sadness that we are informing you of our decision to close Ockbrook School. 

“At the start of the pandemic, we launched a detailed strategic review of the school to identify the best way forward in these challenging times and ensure the long-term viability of Ockbrook School. 

“Following the consideration of a number of options, it has become clear that the school is significantly loss-making, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic, and we have not been able to find any backers to take on the scale of those losses. 

“As a result, the school has become insolvent and we have no choice but to close at the end of the 2021 Summer Term. The decision was not taken lightly but we have unfortunately exhausted all alternative options and keeping the school operating is simply not viable anymore. 

The school was a coeducational day and boarding school for children from three to 18 years old who will have to move to other schools in time for the new school years starting in September. 


AF Biomass

Administrators have been appointed at AF Biomass, a straw merchant who supplied the product for energy, food and farming across the UK. 

A spokesperson for the business said: “AF Biomass had no realistic prospect of being able to meet its contractual obligations to supply straw to the power stations and the market had changed dramatically since the company was established in 2013 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the AF group - a farmer owned co-operative. 

“In these circumstances, the directors have been advised that AF Biomass is insolvent and cannot continue to trade. It has therefore been decided to appoint administrators. 


Riccall Carers

A care business providing home visits for elderly and vulnerable people in York and Selby has ceased trading and gone into liquidation

Riccall Carers provided personal care home visits for 180 residents in the area for private funded clients as well as council funded clients since 1998. 

Director Helen Thompson said: “It is very sad for us to see the end of the business which my parents started 23 years ago. 

“While we have contracted over recent years, we remain one of the larger providers in the York and Selby areas. Unfortunately, the growing demand for our services has coincided with ongoing challenges over staffing with further disruption caused as a result of the Covid outbreak. 

“It has been difficult to retain team spirit and integrate new staff during the series of lockdowns since March 2020. Following extended periods of remote working, we have simply been unable to recover as a cohesive team and keep up with the pace of change required of us.”

Due to the ongoing challenges facing the sector, particularly around staffing and the pandemic, the directors felt they had no choice but to put the business into liquidation. 


Oxis 

Being involved in a cutting edge industry is no guarantee of success or solvency.

Lithium-sulphur battery developer Oxis Energy have appointed administrators to wind up the business after failing to secure the essential funding needed to continue their research and development. 

60 members of staff have been made redundant as the firm’s specialist testing equipment and approx. 200 patents are being marketed for sale along with their physical testing centre and R&D facility. 

The company blamed Covid-19 for the halt in operations and were looking to expand before the trading conditions proved insurmountable.


Market Halls

London-based outdoor food hall operator Market Halls has launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal to secure the future of its three locations in the capital - in Victoria, Fulham and the West End. 

None of them have been able to reopen since the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020 and the CVA is being pursued to allow the business to financially restructure itself so it can reopen in a stronger position. 

Founder and chief executive Andy Lewis-Pratt said: “The past 14 months have been the most challenging of my career. 

“Prior to the pandemic, we were fast-growing and had exciting plans for our business. But with prolonged restrictions forcing us to close our doors indefinitely, the future of Market Halls is now at real risk. 

“We’ve been working incredibly hard to find a way through, and after much consideration, it’s our firm belief that these CVA proposals represent the best means possible of giving us the flexibility we need to secure our future.”


VIAM

Civil engineering firm Vital Infrastructure Asset Management (VIAM) based in Liverpool and employing 300 staff has gone into administration

Administrators confirm that its trading performance was impacted by disputes with certain customers leading to receipts being withheld. This has led to severe liquidity pressure and ultimately the circumstances have required this decision. 

A spokesperson said: “This is unfortunately a very challenging period for the group’s stakeholders, and in particular its employees. Despite the best efforts of the directors, the group was unable to generate the cash needed to sustain its trading operations.

“Our immediate focus is on supporting the group’s employees to ensure all relevant claims are submitted as promptly as possible.”


We’re in the middle of the year and you’d be forgiven that things are becalmed and in a holding pattern right now. 

Nothing seems to be moving forward with any certainty and if you’re a business owner or director, this can be the worst thing for your company. 

If you can’t make any concrete plans or move forward with decisions you’ve already taken - then where does that leave you?

Why not get in touch with us before you spend another moment worrying. 

We offer a free initial consultation so you can explain what you’d like to do with your business and what issues are stopping you. 

Then we can work together on a realistic and effective roadmap that will put the plans into place.  

business suit

April has certainly showered us with a lot of stories that you might have missed but don’t worry - you can catch up in one place right here!


Pre pack administration - what directors need to know


Peacocks and Bonmarche emerge from administration
An investment consortium led by former Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EMW) CEO Steve Simpson completed a buy out of retailers Peacocks allowing them to exit administration. 

The group will retain 200 of the chain's 400 plus stores, keeping 2000 jobs with hopes to keep more depending on the results of negotiations with the landlords of various outlets. 

Peacocks went into administration in November 2020 as part of a process involving its parent - the EWM group. 

Another former property of the group - Bonmarche - was also purchased by Mr Simpson in a separate deal with negotiations continuing regarding the fate of the previous 72 stores and 531 employees the company had. 

The timing for these deals is fortunate as non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen to the public from April 12 and can take full advantage of consumers pent up demand. 

Grensill jobs go
In a story that is continuing to make headlines for other reasons, 440 workers in Warrington have been made redundant after Greensill Capital Management Company Limited went into administration following the collapse of the parent company in Australia. 

Greensill were also the main lenders to Liberty Steel so the ramifications of this process could continue to be felt throughout the year, especially if no buyer can be found for the business. 

Total Fitness
The various lockdown restrictions have severely impacted the health and fitness industries more than most. 

While some are still struggling with restoring full services until all restrictions are lifted, Total Fitness has moved to take advantage of the protection insolvency procedures can bring to a company by entering a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). 

A spokesperson said: “The cumulative effects of the lockdown restrictions have had a major impact on gym and health clubs across the UK. 

“Total Fitness clubs have now been closed for eight months. With membership payments on pause, this means we are operating with very limited income and continuing costs.

“Total Fitness has been no exception to the impact of Covid-19 and is now seeking the assistance of all partners including landlords and suppliers to support the strong, long-term future of the business by launching a CVA.” 

16 of its 17 facilities will remain in operation, opening when allowed while managers work with landlords and creditors to secure a solid and stable future for the business. 

Brooks Brothers
Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic is the office outfit. 

Working from home hasn’t stretched to wearing or buying a new suit so this collapse in demand has badly affected the upscale and upmarket clothes retailers. 

One example is Brooks Brothers - the American based suit manufacturer and retailer have put their UK division into administration. This follows the parent company opening bankruptcy proceedings in the US before eventually being bought out by a consortium. 

A spokesperson said: “The reason for appointing administrators is because of the prolonged closure of non-essential retail, despite the directors best efforts and regular communications with landlords and local creditors, mounting rent arrears and the problems of the worldwide group.”

The administrators have intimated that they would reopen the business’s three UK based stores at the O2 Arena, Westfield London and Bicester Village in Oxfordshire as soon as practicable, although the company had already surrendered the lease of their flagship London location on Regent Street.

Fellow US-based retailer Gap have also announced that they are considering moving to an online-only model in Europe which would have consequences for their retails stores and staff in the UK.  

The downward trend continues for the fashion industry as Menswear supplier Prominent Europe that owns Chester Barrie and supplies retailers such as TM Lewin and Moss Bros has proposed an orderly wind-down and closure of its business. 

Founded in 1993, the group’s owners stated that the decision was due to unprecedented changes in the menswear tailoring market.

A spokesperson said: “After deep consideration and with a heavy heart we have had to announce to our 40 employees that we will close our business over the next year in an orderly manner whilst satisfying our orders and liabilities. 

Quilliam Foundation
Times are tough if you’re a retailer but what if you’re a charity and already rely on grants and donations to function?

The Quilliam Foundation was formed in 2007 as a think-tank to counter the growing influence of extremism in religious communities by fostering a shared set of social belonging and to advance liberal democratic values. 

11 employees have been made redundant. 

Maajid Nawaz co-founded the organisation in 2007 with best-selling writer Ed Husain, and said: “Due to the hardship of maintaining a non-profit during Covid lockdowns, we took the tough decision to close Quilliam down for good. This was finalised today. A huge thank you to all those who supported us over the years.”

Phantom Orchestra halved 
Arts and entertainment have also been under huge pressure and even gradual reopening won’t be enough to bring the sector back in its entirety. 

One example is the announcement from the Cameron Macintosh and Really Useful Group that their revived production of The Phantom of the Opera would only be using a slimmed-down orchestra rather than the full standard West End ensemble. 

As a result, 13 musicians have lost their positions and won’t be playing when the curtain rises on the 35-year-old show’s new performances resuming at Her Majesty’s Theatre in July.

These include the harp, oboe, trumpet, horns and percussion as well as several violins. 

A spokesperson for the promoters said: “The new production will be using the acclaimed orchestration for 14 musicians that was created for the international productions of the show. 

“These orchestrations are just as thrilling and rich as the original but would not have been possible with the technology available in 1986. The new Phantom orchestra will remain one of the largest in the West End. 

StepChange losing staff due to falling demand for services
StepChange, one of the UK’s largest national charities that offers expert debt advice and fee-free debt management is making close to 10% of its staff - 140 to 170 posts - redundant.  

Chief Executive Phil Andrew said: “We are not immune from the wider pressures arising from Covid, despite the significant additional support we have received from Government and other sources during the pandemic. 

“The Government, the Money and Pensions Service, and the debt advice sector itself were expecting a huge wave of demand to materialise once the emergency support measures fade away, and we still do. 

“Based on 2021 experience to date, however, our original expectation of advising 400,000 clients this year is not going to materialise. The fact that we expected demand to increase in the future doesn’t change the current reality. 

“As a prudent charity, we will not compromise our financial stability by relying on future funding to support our current operating costs.  

The charity’s income is based upon how many clients it helps, with those volumes affecting the level of funds received from central government and devolved regional authority funds. They also receive an amount from creditors in recognition of its work to support people in repaying their debts.

They supported 200,000 clients in 2020, down from 300,000 in the previous year. 

The charity has frozen pay and as well as making redundancies, still has staff furloughed under the CJRS.

Mr Andrew said: “It is not what we would have wished to do, even though it is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Breast Cancer Haven
The charity Breast Cancer Haven has also announced that it is suspending operations at all of its UK centres and putting all staff on notice of redundancy. 

A spokesperson said: “It is with huge sadness our Board of Trustees have made the extremely difficult decision to suspend operations for the time being including pausing the delivery of our live online service. 

“As a result of the pandemic our income has decreased significantly. At the beginning of March 2020, we were forced to close our five centres and other in-hospital face-to-face services.  

“Despite this series of cost cutting measures and saying goodbye to valued colleagues, we are not able to continue normal operations at this time.

Despite the resumption of trading for many businesses this month, there is no sector or part of the country that has remained unscathed from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. 


Liquidation or striking off? What’s the difference?


If you want your business to be around to take part in the recovery then one of the best things you can do now is to get in touch with us for some specialist free advice.

After an initial chat with one of our experienced advisors, you will be in a better position to understand what choices you can make now to better prepare your business or to move in a new direction entirely

Whatever you ultimately decide, you’ll be glad you got in touch. 

Ibrox Stadium

We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve written and spoken about how administration is a way for businesses to stay trading while working through their difficulties, and that while not every company that enters reemerges stronger on the other side, plenty can and do. 

We’ve collected a list of recent administration success stories - businesses that have been through the administration process but have come out stronger, healthier and made some positive headlines. 


Champions of England and Scotland

In 2002, Leicester City FC, League Cup Winners only two years previously, went into administration with debts of £30 million. 

The collapse of ITV digital, owing them a large amount of guaranteed TV rights money, high player wages and the cost of building a new stadium meant that they were banned from signing any new players for transfer fees during the 2002/03 season. 

Eventually the Football League and Premiership decided that this in itself was an insufficient punishment for any club going into administration during the season and introduced a series of points penalties either in the current season or to be implemented in the following campaign for other clubs. 

They sold several players for over £4 million and were eventually taken over by a consortium led by ex-Leicester City player and Match of the Day host, Gary Lineker.  

They were able to secure promotion back to the Premier League at the end of the year and despite relegation in the interim period, the consortium were bought out by Thai billionaire the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in 2010, who secured promotion once again. 

The Foxes then won the English Premier League in 2015/16 and are still contenders now despite the untimely death of their owner in a helicopter crash in 2018. 

Glasgow Rangers are one of the most storied football clubs in the world with 55 Scottish League Championships, 33 Scottish Cup wins and 27 Scottish League Cup wins. They also won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1971/72 and have completed the domestic treble on no less than seven occasions. 

So it was an earthquake to the Scottish game when the club went into administration in 2012. They were deducted ten points immediately and despite an attempt to arrange a CVA, their debts of £134 million were considered too much to be overcome by their main creditors, HMRC, so the club’s assets and staff were transferred to a new company instead. 

Because the new company was also classed as a new football club, the other members of the SPL had to vote on their re-entry into the competition which was rejected, meaning the new club had to rejoin the league pyramid at the fourth level - the second division. 

After consecutive promotion campaigns, the new club returned to the SPL in 2016 and this weekend have won their 55th Scottish Championship under the leadership of Steven Gerrard - their first for ten years.

House of Fraser

The 172 year old department store chain entered into a CVA in 2018 following the collapse of a sale to C.Banner - the owner of flagship London toy store Hamleys.  

They went into administration in August 2018 for one day before being bought for £90 million cash by the Sports Direct group which also purchased all stores, stock and fittings as well as trademarks and branding. 

Sports Direct later renamed their whole group as Frasers Group PLC and plan to redirect the brand into becoming a “next generation of lifestyle stores called Frasers.” The aim of which is to create a “superior shopping experience” which will be led by the groups original Frasers store in Glasgow. 

Some other stores will close while they concentrate on fewer and better locations saying “Frasers stores will be positioned at the luxury end of the market and will focus on brands, experiences and services.”

Not every owner has the financial firepower of Mike Ashley but when the Covid-19 lockdown lifts, Frasers will be well positioned to complete their transformation into a high-end retail destination.

Genesis Bakery

McErlain’s - a popular local bakery in Northern Ireland - went into administration in 2018 after falling into financial difficulties despite supplying several of the UK’s major retailers including Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Tesco. 

They were bought in a pre-pack administration deal by the Tayto Group, another locally based company that owns the Golden Wonder and Real Crisps brands, immediately saving 260 jobs and securing the future of the business. 

It rebranded as Genesis and has continued to recover and recently announced a new range of high quality cakes and pastries called “The After” in partnership with Stephen Chisholm, the first winner of the Great Irish Bake Off TV show. 

None of which would have been possible if the business had been liquidated when it first encountered difficulties. 

Chris Horner, Insolvency Director with Business Rescue Expert said: “The idea of placing your business under the control of an external administrator can be a scary and daunting experience for some directors. 

“Their pride might make it difficult to accept the reality of their situation and we’ve heard some stories about owners who would rather close a business with a chance of successful recovery because they couldn’t bear to relinquish control, even for a short period of time. 

“It’s unfortunate because administration can be the very act that a company’s future recovery and success is built upon. 

“Being able to put the needs of the business first and acknowledge the necessity for professional help is the mark of real leadership - something they’re rarely given enough credit for.”


If your business is facing financial difficulties, don’t wait for a miracle - make your own luck and get in touch with us to arrange a free initial consultation

Once we fully understand your circumstances, we can outline what choices and options you’ve got and how you can best begin your business recovery. 

Don’t leave it too late - the quicker you decide to act, the more maneuverability you’ll generally have and the sooner you can begin your own administration success story.

Q4 stats 2020

Although if we’re honest, although it’s early days, things do seem a lot like 2020 don't they?

It’s dark, cold, miserable, we’re still mainly locked down and many businesses still aren’t allowed to open. 
Throughout it all though, our friends at The Insolvency Service have continued to track all the company insolvency activity and have published their figures for December 2020.

In December there were a total of 1,228 company insolvencies in England and Wales with an additional 57 in Scotland and 9 from Northern Ireland which makes the UK total 1,294 - a rise from November’s 942 which is up an eye-catching 37.8% on the previous month 

This is the first time that the numbers of company insolvencies were higher than the comparable month in 2019 since the start of the first UK lockdown in March. The percentage rise is 9.2%. 

The Insolvency Service note that statistics for individual months have more potential for volatility and explicitly note that it’s too soon to tell whether this represents an emerging trend, especially as the insolvency numbers for December 2019 were themselves low compared to the rest of the year.  

They will complete further analysis of long-term trends in the quarterly statistics bulletin for Q4 2020 which will be published later this month. 

The 1,294 total can be broken down as follows: There were 1,028 Creditors Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs); 57 compulsory liquidations;  161 administrations and 48 Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs)

In a straight comparison to 12 months previously compulsory liquidations were 80% lower, CVLs were 26% higher, administrations were up 7% and there are twice as many CVAs although the number was admittedly small by pre-lockdown numbers. 

There were more cases in every single category than the previous month and it will be interesting to understand The Insolvency Service’s analysis for this.

Company Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs) remains the most frequent insolvency process accounting for over 75% of all recorded procedures. 

Both CVAs and administrations increased but remain small in a historic context.  

This is due in the main to the financial support extended to certain companies during the pandemic and lockdowns that are due to continue at time of writing until the end of March and April this year

The financial support combined with ongoing suspension of creditor remedies including statutory demands and winding-up petitions have created a period of pause for some businesses - allowing them to continue to function when they would otherwise be considering insolvency solutions.

The court system which has also seen a vast reduction in its opening hours and staffing levels will gradually return to normal which will allow it to process the huge backlog of cases once lockdown hopefully begins to be eased in the Spring. 

This was also the first year that companies were able to obtain an insolvency moratorium as four did or have a restructuring plan sanctioned by the court which occurred twice since their introduction in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020.

Both of these are expected to increase substantially in the forthcoming 12 months.  

The dam finally breaks?

Colin Haig, President of R3 - the insolvency and restructuring trade association, said: “These figures show that the economic impact of the pandemic may now finally be pushing increasing numbers of struggling businesses and individuals over the line into formal insolvency.

“It’s a question of when, not if, insolvency numbers further increase this year - especially as the Government’s support packages, which have provided a critical safety net for businesses and individuals, are due to start running out at the end of the first quarter.

“Even if the Chancellor decides to extend them again at some point they will have to come to an end.

“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the UK’s economy, which fell by 8.9% in the 12 months to November 2020, and on unemployment levels, which have increased at the sharpest rate for a decade. We’ve also seen a number of big brands - including household names - enter insolvency processes or announce restructuring programmes as their operations were hampered.” 

It might have been too much to expect that just beginning a New Year would wipe away the restrictions and problems every business has had to contend with in the previous 12 months. 

Indeed, without any official extension of the Coronavirus business support measures being announced, the weeks and months before they are officially wound down and withdrawn might be too much of a hurdle to overcome for some companies that have managed to make it so far.  

But there’s always opportunity in turbulent times - the opportunity to act and put your own business first. 

We’re available - right now - to arrange a free initial virtual consultation with you to discuss what options are out there for your company, today. 

Once we get a clearer view of your situation, we can prepare various likely scenarios based on decisions and choices you can make that will give your business the best chance of making it into the post-Covid economy or being able to efficiently close a business in order to rebound and restart afresh when possible. 

Whatever path you decide, you can take the first steps right now while the rest of the world is just waiting. 

British pubs
Even if you didn’t frequent the Queen Vic or The Rovers Return as much as the residents of Walford or Wetherfield you knew what a pub was and what they were for. 
 
They were as much a part of the local community as the library, church or community centre and gave everybody the opportunity to find what they were looking for. 
 
Whether it's a convivial company to share and celebrate good news, space and silence to consider bad, or the chance to sample drinks and food from around the world or just down the road - the pub is an integral reflection and representation of the people of these isles. 
 
So it’s staggering given the dire straits that the hospitality industry and specifically pubs and bars find themselves in that there is still a widespread ignorance or apathy to the fate starring many of them in the face. 
 
A new study from pub industry data specialists CGA found that nearly a third of licensed premises had already closed their doors before the second UK lockdown was announced and implemented. 
 
69.9% of respondents were trading at the end of October 2020, a fall of more than 10% on the previous month or the equivalent of nearly 12,000 pubs shutting up shop. 
 
It’s still unclear how many of these closures are temporary or permanent but a sobering assessment from three of the leading beverage trade groups expected that 43% of closed outlets would never reopen. 
 
The research found that many of the closures were triggered by the three-tier system of restrictions which forced pubs and bars in “very high” or level three alert areas to close unless they were serving substantial meals along with drinks. 
 
While the numbers of pubs and bars open in level one and two areas respectively were over 80%, just over half (52.8%) of licensed premises in level three areas were reported open at the end of October.
 
The study also highlighted the dramatic impact the 10pm curfew had had on a struggling sector. 
 
Only 63.1% drink-led businesses remained open at the end of October compared to 79.9% of food-led businesses and 81.3% of casual dining restaurants including chains.  
 
Well-capitalised pub and restaurant groups will be better placed and resourced to survive the second lockdown intact with 81.8% of their managed venues remaining in operation. This is compared to the 63% of independent sites that were still open and relying on a dwindling combination of savings, loans and overdrafts to make it through to December 3rd when the current lockdown is scheduled to be lifted. 
 
Karl Chessell, head of Food and Retail research at CGA said: “It’s very clear from this report that every new restriction damages businesses’ ability to trade. 
 
“With Englad entering a second lockdown, we are unlikely to see Britain’s licensed premises return to the levels seen in the summer, let alone pre-pandemic, for a long time.”
 
He added that the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) furlough would help but urged even more government support to “prevent a wave of permanent closures over the winter.”
 
The industry took heart from some good news that would allow some establishments to sell takeaway alcohol under certain restrictions. 
 
Selling a few gallons of beer to customers instead of having to dispose of it down the drain will be a small comfort to the bars and pubs that can do it but it’s still a drop in a pint glass compared to the hundreds of thousands of pounds of lost revenue that won’t recouped by the industry even if they are all allowed to open their doors again without restriction next month. 
 
Every good landlord has to have the instinct and nerve of a poker professional - when to stick with what they’ve got; when to gamble based on their instinct and evidence that things will improve and also when to fold. 
 
Circumstances mean that not every otherwise profitable pub will be able to reopen when Covid-19 is nothing more than a quiz answer and a sad memory.
 
This doesn’t mean that they have to wait for the inevitable - they can take the initiative and get in touch with somebody who can help right now.
 
We’ll provide a free initial consultation where they can set out what the situation their business is facing and we can let them know what steps they can take - today - to change it. 
 
Depending on a lot of factors, they could consider a CVA or administration to buy them time to work out a rescue and restructure which will give the company every chance of being able to come good again.   
 
They might even decide that if they are having to close then they could do it properly and allow themselves to begin again later with a clean slate.
 
What has happened to hundreds of pubs and bars across the country this year has been a tragedy but it’s equally tragic to consider closing down without exploring all the help and advice that’s still here for you - whenever you want it.

Business Rescue Expert is part of Robson Scott Associates Limited, a limited company registered in England and Wales No. 05331812, a leading independent insolvency practice, specialising in business rescue advice. The company holds professional indemnity insurance and complies with the EU Services Directive. Christopher Horner (IP no 16150) is licenced by the Insolvency Practitioners Association

FOLLOW US

©2021 Business Rescue. All Rights Reserved.