What business & insolvency stories happened this month?
Inconsiderate birds are taking advantage of the lighter mornings and nights to start singing unreasonably early.
Easter Eggs are on the shelves of still relatively empty supermarkets and people are beginning to check their calendars with a sense of dread resignation as the phrase “daylight savings time” or “UK summer time” appears.
Unmistakably, It must be the end of March, the beginning of Spring and for businesses the end of the first quarter and the financial year.
With so much else happening, there’s been a few insolvency and business stories that might have escaped your attention this month – so here they are!
The 110 year old chocolate manufacturer and store announced that it would not be reopening any of its 61 UK branches when lockdown ends, affecting over 600 jobs.
A spokesperson said: “changing dynamics of the high street, shifting customer behaviour to online, the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and the numerous lockdown restrictions over the last year – especially during our key trading periods at Easter and Christmas – has meant we’ve been operating in the most challenging circumstances.
“Unfortunately, like many other retailers, the obstacles we’ve faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe. Despite our best efforts, we’ve taken the difficult decision to start the permanent closure of our retail store estate.”
The company said they remain committed to their iconic Thorntons brand and will continue to operate online but their wonderful window displays will soon become a thing of the past.
Ralph & Russo
The high end designers who created Kate Middleton’s engagement gown announced they would be going into administration late last week. .
The company’s co-founder Tamara Ralph said that trading conditions during the pandemic had put tremendous strain on the business.
She said: “I’ve been assured that this process will help refinance the business and allow us all to do what we love best – creating for our women across the world. I would also like to reaffirm my commitment to the brand and to taking it to new heights in the future.”
The business will continue to operate while a buyer or investors are sought to help, including bringing employees pay up-to-date which had been deferred last month.
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), the non profit international development organisation which allows people from the UK, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, to work on grassroots projects abroad announced it is to wind down operations after funding was withdrawn.
VSO relies on grants from the Foriegn and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) for over half its annual budget but cuts to foreign aid mean that there is no commitment to continue funding the organisation beyond the end of March.
Private donations and international investment could keep the organisation running but would still see 200 redundancies and the withdrawal from projects in 14 countries.
Over 1,200 UK volunteers would also lose their support with only 50 being able to be helped.
Chief Executive Philip Goodwin said: “This is a major British institution that is known throughout the world and benefits the UK hugely but unless we receive funding we will no longer be a British institution. We will survive but will be a radically different organisation.”
Football Index Crashes
The “Football Stock Market” – Football Index – which allowed customers to “invest” in shares of individual players has gone into administration.
The online trading platform was suspended with customers assured that existing cash balances had been moved to a segregated account safeguarded by administrators that would be in contact with them.
A spokesperson said: “The Board have at all times been seeking the best way to sustain the platform as we believed a recovery was not only possible but also in the best interests of our customers.
“This decision is deeply regrettable and is the outcome we were seeking to avoid by restructuring dividends. However, we believe it is the most responsible route forward for our community given the situation as it has developed.”
End of the line for Llangollen Heritage Railway
A local Welsh heritage railway in Llangollen which usually attracts thousands of visitors went into receivership owing over £350,000.
The railway issued a statement saying: “It is with great regret that the directors of Llangollen Railway PLC have had to take the reluctant step of inviting the bank to appoint a receiver.
“A number of significant contract disputes have crystallised in the last few days, all of which arose in the years prior to the current board taking over in October 2020.
“The claims against the company are compelling and there is no prospect of meeting these liabilities, even over an extended period. In such circumstances the company cannot legally continue to trade.
“The Trust board will need to take steps to negotiate with the receiver to try to secure the line and preserve rolling stock and infrastructure to the extent possible. It is intended to recommence operations in due course, but this is dependent upon legal and regulatory approvals, including licencing, all of which will clearly take time.”
As well as changes in light, time and temperature, Spring also brings renewed optimism and energy.
A sense of new beginnings and opportunities pervades the atmosphere as we literally and figuratively begin to emerge from the dark.
Which makes now the perfect time to begin to put the plans you’ve been working on for your businesses into action – but only after having a chat with us first.
We offer a free, impartial, initial consultation where we can discuss your unique situation and help you focus on the best options for you to revive and renew your prospects and begin to move toward your preferred end destination.
Don’t get left at the start line – get in touch today and get ready to make a flying start!