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Your July insolvency and business news round up

Your July insolvency and business news round up

The schools might be breaking up and people getting away on holiday (eventually) but businesses still have to keep going during the hot weather and overlapping leave periods.  So whether you’re stuck at a laptop or have managed to escape to a beach, you can catch up with all the business and insolvency news stories […]

The schools might be breaking up and people getting away on holiday (eventually) but businesses still have to keep going during the hot weather and overlapping leave periods. 

So whether you’re stuck at a laptop or have managed to escape to a beach, you can catch up with all the business and insolvency news stories that have happened this month and any other administration, CVA and liquidation stories that might have escaped your notice while you’ve been packing in the mean time. 

Enjoy our monthly summary! 


UK Energy Incubator

The crisis in the UK energy suppliers’ market continues with two more suppliers exiting the market .

UK Energy Incubator Hub (UKEIH), also trading as Euston Energy Limited and Northumbria Energy, exited the market after being served with a Final Order by Ofgem as part of an ongoing fit and proper person requirement relating to a senior member of the management team. 

Their 3,500 customers will be transferred to Octopus Energy. 

Following the order being made, UKEIH appointed administrators to oversee the orderly closure of the business. 

Toogood International

Toogood International Transport and Agricultural services, A Bristol-based, family-owned express transport business has gone into administration following a difficult period of trading. 

First founded in 2006, the business employed 10 permanent members of staff who will be made redundant as the warehouse and office are closed. 

A spokesperson said: “We are sorry that such a prominent South-West company has ceased trading. 

“Once directors reached the conclusion that the business was no longer viable, they acted quickly to prevent the position for creditors worsening and appointed administrators who will look for a buyer for all or part of the business.”

The company was previously successful enough to be the primary shirt and club sponsor of the Bristol Bears Rugby Club and had years of trading growth but additional headwinds including a loss of international freight business due to Brexit, ongoing driver shortages as well as increasing fuel prices were collectively too much to continue trading.

 

TMC Gas Services

A mechanical and electrical sub-contractor based in Londonderry has gone into administration with the loss of 28 positions. 

TMC Gas Services primarily carried out work for health trusts and despite efforts to find a buyer, this was unsuccessful. 

Founded in 2003 by the McCullagh family, the company was a respected mechanical and electrical contractor completing projects throughout the islands of Ireland and Britain providing a professional mechanical and electrical installation and maintenance service working in partnership with their clients. 

A spokesperson said: “Following an initial appraisal of the company’s business, including efforts to rescue the company as a going concern, the business has unfortunately had to cease trading with all employees being made redundant. 

“The post pandemic economic environment in terms of inflationary pressures and supply chain disruption, is significantly impacting firms across various sectors. Whilst every effort was made by the company directors, ultimately due to increasing cash flow pressures the company was forced to see the protection of an administration process.

“The joint administrators will now seek to wind down the company’s affairs in an orderly manner, including engaging with all stakeholders of the business in order to maximise realisations for the company’s creditors.”

Construction in crisis

The offsite construction specialist Mid Group and parent company Mid Holding went into administration last week and have made the difficult decision to proceed to full liquidation this week with all 37 staff made redundant as a result. 

The firm had been facing a cash flow crisis already and communication with staff says that although they are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, “they trust that this brings some certainty to what has been a very difficult and worrying period for all staff”.

The Hertfordshire based company had described itself as one of the UK’s fastest growing construction companies and “a leading offsite construction, consultancy and development business” when founded in 2015.

Additionally, two sister companies Fireclad Ltd and fit out specialists Harrison Jorge Limited went into administration with the combined loss of 72 positions. 

Venn Media

Event company Venn Media has ceased trading and gone into voluntary liquidation with immediate effect meaning the cancellation of the London Dessert Festival in August. 

The company issued a statement saying that due to financial difficulties following from the pandemic and financial crisis it had been unable to achieve the sponsors or ticket sales to proceed with the event. 

Founder Lyndon Baptiste said: “We are absolutely heartbroken to have to cancel the London Dessert Festival. 

“Having launched Venn Media during the global pandemic, the team put everything into planning the execution of an exciting and interactive event to capture audiences craving face-to-face interaction after two years of intermittent lockdowns and social distancing.

“Sadly, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the sector and the current financial crisis, we have found that exhibitors are booking, they prefer to keep funds in their accounts as long as possible and are paying later than ever before. 

“This, teamed with ticket sales which are coming in much later than anticipated, as is reflected across the whole industry, caused a cash flow issue which led us to take the decision to cancel the event and put Venn Media into insolvency in a bid to minimise the impact across the whole supply chain. 

“We wish to thank all of our suppliers, visitors and exhibitors for their support on this journey and apologise that the event will not be going ahead. We want you to know that no one is more disappointed than we are at this outcome. 

“Having worked tirelessly for 18 months to put the event on, without taking any income from the business is bitterly disappointing for us all but we believe this is the right decision for all involved.”

Absurd Bird

Fried chicken brand Absurd Bird has entered administration with the closure of five restaurants in London, Glasgow, Leeds and Exeter.

The brand may look to continue to operate as an online only supplier functioning via UberEats and JustEat. 

A spokesperson said: “With a heavy heart, we have officially closed our doors. 

“We would like to apologise to anyone with a booking that we can no longer fulfil, this decision was unfortunately out of our control. Thank you to everyone who has joined us over the last four years for humongous chicken burgers & yummy cocktails, we have loved every minute.”

FEL Group

The UK-based data centre cooling systems management company has ceased trading this month citing “protracted negotiations” over a key contract as one of the main reasons. 

A spokesperson said: “In light of the restructure and change in management, improvement could be seen as the company returned to a break-even point. 

“Unfortunately the business came under significant financial pressure because of protracted negotiations with a key contact which impacted its ability to win other business.”

Additional investment sources were investigated and a sale of the business was explored until directors realised that they were unable to avoid insolvency and took steps to allow the realisation of key assets which will result in the best return available to creditors of the company.

Parc Essex

A children’s charity in Essex - Parc - which aimed to provide play and recreation facilities for children with additional needs and short break care for their families and carers - has shut down after its contract with Essex County Council was terminated last month after meeting with the charity’s acting chief executive and reviewing its accounts, which were overdue by 103 days.  

Parc was also subject to an ongoing regulatory compliance case from the Charity Commission “to examine concerns about its governance and financial management.”

So abrupt was the decision to announce the closure that 65 staff claim they had 90 minutes notice

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “Following a meeting with the acting chief executive and chair of Parc trustees, and Parc’s accountants, the council was left with no alternative other than to make the difficult decision to terminate the Short Breaks contract with Parc in order to ensure funding could be redirected to the benefit of families accessing the provision. 

“The council recognises the skills and support staff have offered to families for many years, and the decision bears no reflection on the standard of delivery, but in relation to the sustainability of Parc itself.”

Ellicon Construction

A family run construction company based on the Isle of Sheppey has gone into administration this week with the loss of 52 positions. 

Ellicon Construction which was based in Sheerness had been operating for the last 20 years but has been declared insolvent after being “unable to meet liability payments due to contractual difficulties and the knock on effects of Covid”. 

Ellicron was a groundwork and building contractor that worked on projects throughout the South East of England. It also owned a fleet of excavators, forklifts and dumper trucks. 

A spokesperson said: “Family run businesses are the lifeblood of the UK’s economy and it is regrettable that we’re unable to continue to operate. 

“Alternative contractors are being sought to ensure customer projects are delivered to completion but understand a number of former staff members will be offered employment with these contractors. 

“In the circumstances, we’ll be doing our best to maximise recoveries for creditors.”

NWP

A North Wales electrical and mechanical company, NWP, has ceased trading with the loss of 59 positions. 

The company based in St Asaph provided electrical and mechanical services for the design and build, commercial and residential industries and had traded successfully for over 25 years and as recently as October 2021 was named one of the 50 fastest growing firms in Wales. 

But due to ongoing difficult economic conditions impacting the sector, significant pressure was placed on the cash flow and profitability of the company, leading to its insolvency. 

A spokesperson said: “Due to the ongoing financial challenges and inflationary pressures impacting the business, NWP Electrical & Mechanical Ltd has become insolvent and is no longer trading.

“Our focus is now on managing effective communication with creditors and working with staff to help them access redundancy support.”

Eaglemoss

Eaglemoss Limited, one of the companies that produces multi-part models to build based on famous TV and film vehicles such as the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, has filed notice to appoint an administrator. 

A spokesperson said: “Eaglemoss is one of the world’s biggest names in licensed collectable marketing and distributing more than 150 collections in more than 30 markets.”

As a partwork publisher, it produces books, toys, model parts, knitwear, cutlery, coins and dioramas in a serialised format mainly sold through mail order or newsagents. In recent years they have also looked to extend their line into comic book properties and video games such as Fortnight. They most recently announced they would look to move into NFTs. 

Customers awaiting parts of their incomplete builds will have to await for an administrator to be formally appointed and hear their plans for the business. 

Crossfield Living

Following on from the collapse of Crossfield’s construction business earlier this year in April, the company’s development division is also officially being wound up.

Founder David Cain said he hoped to pay off creditors while keeping Crossfield Living operating as a going concern but was unable to proceed on this basis. 

A spokesperson for the business said: “The company has faced financial challenges in recent times with rising costs, loss of contracts and Covid restrictions being some of the reasons for the decision.

“We are contacting all known creditors to outline what this means for them, what the next steps are and that all statutory duties will be fulfilled over the coming days, weeks and months.” 

Boiler Plan UK

A shortage of new boilers has caused the collapse of a North East boiler installation and repair business that employed 62 staff members. 

Director Ian Henderson said the business had been growing well before Covid interrupted the firm’s house call model and exacerbated material shortages that had a serious impact on the number of new boilers available to fulfil orders. 

He continued: “The business was absolutely flying before Covid - we were hitting all our numbers, we were growing rapidly, hiring new staff and we’d moved into new premises. 

“It was all going really well but Covid hit us hard. Because our model relied on us going across the customers’ threshold into their homes that stopped and we had all the challenges business faced during Covid on top of that. 

“We won new contracts last year, business-to-business contracts that were really strong, with the likes of E.ON and Domestic and General and we had orders in Q1 for 600/700 boilers per month which is worth about £1 million in revenue but then the boiler supply crisis hit us.

“It hasn’t been through bad strategy, bad planning or bad people - it is market forces and a materials supply crisis.”

Due to widespread materials shortages including semiconductors, manufacturers are only producing about 20% of the previous year's output which damaged the business which required a minimum of 300 boiler sales per month in order to break even. 

Despite seeking guarantees from manufacturers they were told there would be no certainty in supply until at least mid 2023 so funders withdrew their backing.  With the debt structure of the company this meant that the business couldn’t be sold so reluctantly administrators were called in. 

Dimensions Training Solutions

The company that bought Learndirect, which was previously England’s largest training provider, has ceased training after failing to secure enough skills contracts to clear “significant liabilities”. 

This follows reported unsuccessful attempts to win new government-funded skills contracts and a failed effort to refinance the business with external investment. 

DTS was incorporated in 1998 and delivered a range of commercial and government funded training. After buying Learndirect in 2018, it saw £100 million of contracts cancelled by the government after a grade four Ofsted review. 

The news comes six months after the firm was sold by previous owners to The Firebird Partnership. 

In a statement the board of DTS said: “When the business was acquired in January 2022, it was in a precarious financial position with significant liabilities on the balance sheet, however we believer that because of the strength of the staff team and the quality of our service we would be able to win enough new tenders to rectify the historic position. 

“Despite successfully winning three new contracts this has not been enough and therefore external investment has been sought, or new owners that could provide continuity of employment and learning for staff and young people. 

“We received an offer of investment but unfortunately due to the political uncertainty and delays in awarding new contracts this offer was withdrawn this week and we have had no choice but to pursue this course of action.

“The directors and shareholders are deeply saddened that they have had to take the decision to put the business into liquidation. 

“Our staff and supply chain partners have worked tirelessly in incredibly difficult circumstances over the last six months and during that time have delivered courses to thousands of participants with high success rates and satisfaction levels. We’re grateful for all of their efforts and are incredibly disappointed that we were not able to secure the future of the company despite our best efforts.

Complete Building Developments

A five year old Plymouth building firm, Complete Building Developments, has gone into liquidation blaming rising costs of labour, material and the end of government Covid support leaving the business with a £44,000 bounce back loan. 

The construction industry has been the worst affected business sector with more than 3,200 closures in the past 12 months. This is double the figure from 2020/21 and is more than the number of motor trade and accommodation companies - the next most populous categories -  going into insolvency.

Last month alone, 15 construction companies went into administration which was more than double the number of a year ago. In the first half of 2022 there were 115 construction companies closing.

Complete Building Developments was involved in the development and construction of commercial and domestic buildings. 

Charlotte May, chair of R3 in the South West, the insolvency industry trade body, said, “Although insolvency-related activity has reduced in the South West in July, there are other economic indicators which suggest existing businesses in the region are really struggling.

“There are a worrying number of businesses that have outstanding invoices, which not only suggests they’re showing one of the first signs of financial distress - it can also have a knock-on effect on those awaiting payment.”

Earthkind

A plastic free shop in Plymouth has stopped trading and gone into liquidation. 

Earthkind was set up in 2020 with the aim of making “plastic-free shopping accessible for everyone” and claimed to have stopped tens of thousands of plastic items ending up in landfill dumps. The store also had a refills on wheels van named “Gertie” which was Devon’s first mobile zero waste shop. 

The store closed in May blaming high inflation and supply problems but has now been shuttered permanently. 

A statement from the directors said: “Thank you for all your support not only for the last couple of weeks but for the past couple of years. We’ve had an absolute blast building Earthkind, from starting at the markets with Gertie, and growing into a shop with an incredible team. We’ve met the most lovely and interesting customers, and have made some wonderful friendships, so this message does not come easy.

“We have sadly made the difficult decision to close the Earthkind doors. Unfortunately with the current economic climate, it is no longer possible for us to keep going. Whilst we are all truly gutted, we will not see this as a failure and instead celebrate all the amazing things you’ve helped us achieve. 

“Together we’ve saved well over 30,000 pieces of plastic from heading into landfill, and have encouraged over 1,000 people to shop without plastic. That wouldn’t have been possible without your constant support.”

AW Curtis

A popular Bakers and Butchers factory based in Lincoln has gone into liquidation with the loss of 60 positions. 

AW Curtis also runs a chain of bakers which operate across Lincolnshire called Curtis of Lincoln but these are a separate business and will continue while the factory is liquidated.

The business has been supported by the shops for some time but the last two years and continued challenge of increasing costs to cover utilities, wages and materials became too much for the owners. 

Owner of the family based business Neil Curtis said: “This was not a decision we took lightly. 

“We have always known that the manufacturing business was being supported by the other companies and as a group, we were able to break even, at a minimum.

“However, with rising costs, the impact of the last couple of years and changing consumer habits, we are unable to continue. Maintaining the manufacturing business would have risked the stability of the other companies which together still employ more than 100 people in the local area.”

Ajenta

Scottish video technology business Ajenta that pioneered an immersive virtual classroom platform called Vscene has gone into administration. 

The move is a result of “the severe impact Covid restrictions had on its ability to supply hardware to customers.”

Despite experiencing strong trading in recent months, the business was unable to overcome cash flow difficulties brought on by the pandemic. 

8 positions have been made redundant immediately with a small team retained to provide Vscene customer support while administrators look to explore a sale of the business in whole or its assets. 

Ajent founder and director John Wilson said: “Like many businesses, we experienced a damaging drop off in trading activity during the pandemic which has resulted in a mounting cash flow deficit. 

“We saw sharply increasing demand for our services as educational institutions continue to develop hybrid models for teaching and learning. Unfortunately, this increase in sales has not been enough to close the financial gap created during lockdown. 

“We were confident that additional investment could be secured until recently and as soon as it was established that this wasn’t possible, we took steps.

“I regret that we’ve been unable to continue trading but our customers will not see any change to their existing service as we already have some interest from potential purchasers of the business.”

Love Brownies

A Yorkshire cafe and bakery business has gone into liquidation after suffering unsustainable losses due to Covid-19 and cost increases.

Love Brownies also recently opened a flagship cafe and shop in a luxury Leeds shopping centre but the impact of Covid, expansion costs and the rise in the price of raw materials was too much. 

Founder and owner of Love Brownies Lee Teal said: “It’s a family business and we have been through a horrendous few months. We just want to pick up the pieces and start again. 

“We want to thank all our staff and customers for their support since we started in 2009 with the ambition of baking the ultimate chocolate brownie and making people smile”.

Additional investment or a sale to a third party was explored but ultimately was not viable so after a meeting earlier this month a creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL) was determined as the best option to proceed as the directors considered it was unreasonable to ask staff to continue working knowing there were insufficient funds to enable wages to be paid at the end of the month.”


While last month’s corporate insolvency numbers dipped slightly, the underlying conditions that caused many of them are continuing to worsen. 

If you are seeing the same signs, then you should use the available time productively to get in touch with us

We continue to offer a free consultation for any business owner or director who’s worried about what the next few months could bring them. 

Working with one of our experienced team of expert advisors, they will let you know exactly what options you have and how each could positively impact you and your company’s future. 

But only if you take the first step make contact first. 

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

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