All the top stories from June 30th to July 6th
We’re past the solstice and into July which means we’re officially and spiritually into the second half of 2023 already. Where has it gone?
So while you’re pondering what’s happened – use this quiet time to catch up on all the important and interesting business and insolvency news stories from the previous seven days here.
You can also find out how Thames Water has become caught in a riptide; how wrongful trading means your business could be trading on a cliff edge and why the CVA is making a comeback.
Le Pain Quotidien
A popular hotspot for morning coffee and pastries in London and Oxford has gone into administration with the immediate closure of eight sites and the loss of 250 positions.
The only Le Pain Quotidien location remaining open is at St Pancras station which is managed by a separate company from Bruncho UK Limited which traded as Le Pain Quotidien and confirmed it had appointed administrators.
The chain’s parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the USA in 2020 with the closure of all 98 American stores although a handful had since reopened in New York City.
A statement from the business said: “Pressures on parts of the hospitality and casual dining sector have been well highlighted.
“Bruncho UK Limited which is predominantly located in London has suffered from reduced revenues as a result of decreased footfall in the capital, high rents and increased wage costs. As part of the next steps of the insolvency, we will be looking to realise value from the company’s leasehold interests and other assets.”
Somerset Classic Motorcycles
An importer of classic motorcycles has announced they are closing and going into a liquidation process.
Somerset Classic Motorcycles was a well-known and highly respected classic motorcycle retailer with customers all over the UK who relied on their expertise to import specialist machines from abroad in the best condition.
A statement from the business said: “The classic motorcycle market has experienced a downturn, mainly due to the cost of living crisis as households have reduced spend on non-essential purchases.
“Despite their longstanding presence and dedicated customer base, the usual spring boost in sales did not occur and they were left with no choice other than to cease to trade immediately.
“Their presence will be sorely missed and we understand the impact this news will have on loyal customers, dedicated employees and the local community. Administrators will notify everyone who has potentially lost out as a result of the closure.”
A popular Scottish retail chain has been sold in a pre pack administration, securing its immediate future and its staff.
Wilkies was formed in 1898 and sells men’s and women’s fashion and homewares with a headquarters building in Edinburgh and with 11 other stores across Scotland. Six will remain open as part of the transaction but five will close immediately with 30 redundancies.
A statement was issued that said: “The firm faced many trading challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately sales did not recover to pre-pandemic levels in some locations and this, coupled with rising labour and energy costs, led to the company incurring significant losses.
“In recent months, the directors sought to explore options, including a sale of the business, but a solvent solution was unable to be found. The directors therefore took the difficult decision to seek the appointment of administrators.
“The new company that bought the six stores is called Wilkies Trading Limited.
“As the high street continues to come under significant pressure, with another retail casualty caused by a combination of customers moving to supermarket and online retail and cost pressures particularly from labour and energy prices biting.”
Karen Forret, managing director, said: “We are proud to keep the Wilkies brand alive and to have saved as many jobs as possible.
“Business rates in Scotland are nearly 75% higher than everywhere else in the UK but we believe our high streets still have so much to offer, and are vital to our communities and economy.”
A re-use charity based in Stockton on Tees has announced the business is winding up after three decades of great work.
FRADE’s board of directors announced they had made the “incredibly difficult decision” despite helping to collect donated furniture, appliances and bric-a-brac to help people furnish their homes with goods that would otherwise have been sent to landfill.
As well as their headquarters in Stockton on Tees, the business operated collection and drop off points in Middlesbrough, Darlington and Northallerton.
A statement from Michael Bertram, chief executive of FRADE, said: “Due to a number of significant challenges, the board of directors has taken the incredibly difficult decision to wind up the charity. We will stop providing services and will formally close on June 30, 2023.
“Unfortunately, a combination of reduced levels of donations and sales, the cost-of-living crises and a precarious funding climate meant that despite the best efforts of everybody it hasn’t, sadly, been possible for the company to continue operating.”
A leather based good manufacturer in Northampton has gone into administration as a result of falling demand.
Roma Leather, first founded in 1981 had a turnover of £1.7 million as recently as 2022 and employed 33 staff at their factory.
They produced leather belts and small leather goods producing between 5,000 and 10,000 products annually.
Directors said the company was severely affected by falling high street and online sales resulting in customers reducing or delaying demand for the firm’s products.
Management explored options to secure Roma Leather’s future including attempts to sell its business as a going concern but no solvent solution was forthcoming. They issued a short statement saying the failure illustrates the issues facing many UK SMEs in the current challenging economic environment.
The business has ceased trading with all employees being made redundant.
National Cancer Research Institute
A charity described as the “glue” of the UK’s cancer research community has announced its closure after 22 years.
Both medical professionals and cancer campaigners described the decision by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) as a massive blow to advances in research and treatment.
Fiona Driscoll, chair of the charity wrote on behalf of the NCRI board of trustees.
She said that economic and research uncertainty had raised “significant questions about the sustainability of NCRI’s operating and funding model.”
She added that the board had been unable to resolve the issues in a way that would “deliver long-term viability for the organisation.”
Driscoll wrote: “Reluctantly therefore, the board decided that the risk of operational failure was too great to continue.
“This decision has not been taken lightly and has a huge impact on the NCRI staff. We are grateful for their continued support, hard work and professionalism at such a challenging time.
“The board is now working on the required steps to wind down the charity, identifying and securing our assets; financial, data and IP.”
NCRI was formed in 2001 as a response to the NHS cancer plan to firm up connections between organisations funding research into cancer in order to identify which areas needed it most.
Driscoll ends the letter by saying that the cancer research environment had “matured significantly” since NCRI was formed and that many of the institute’s original goals had been achieved or taken up by business partners.
Pennine Home Improvements
Directors of a Tyneside conservatory business called Pennine Home Improvements have announced they will be liquidating the business.
The showroom in Benton had been closed with published posters saying it was closed for renovations beyond a stated reopening date of June 19 but now there is certainty.
A statement from the directors said that the company had restructured its business operations allowing it to focus on more profitable work, operating with a reduced revenue and a greatly reduced cost base.
Forecasts demonstrated that the company was able to operate profitably and meet its liabilities as they fall due without additional borrowing or supplier credit.
“Nonetheless, the directors are mindful that, with the prevailing economic conditions and an uncertain retail consumer outlook, any forecasts prepared are subject to material uncertainty which may cast doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
Law Direct Limited
A law firm that traded under several different brands was able to find buyers for several parts of the business as part of a pre-pack administration deal.
Law Direct Limited was incorporated in 2011 as an umbrella company for various law firms including:
- Blackstone Law Solicitors & Advocates
- Ellison & Co
- Strain Keville
- Geoffrey Bryant & Co
- Brinley Morris Rees & Jones
- Redfern & Co
- Beverly Davies Penny
- Volks Hedleys
- Kirk & Partners
- Davies Ingram Harvey
- Davies Phillips & Partners
- Griffith Smith Conway
Law Direct begun to experience financial difficulties over the previous two years after making numerous acquisitions
A statement from the business says: “For a number of reasons, the integration of the acquired business was not straightforward and became increasingly difficult over the period resulting in the company being unable to properly control the businesses and to renew professional indemnity insurances across the various practices when they were up for renewal.
“Due to these complications, it became clear that an insolvency process was required and after discussion with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), it was determined that a pre-pack administration sale, were requisite marketing, bidding, negotiation and contract preparation was undertaken prior to the company entering administration, would ensure that part of the business could seamlessly transfer to a new operator ensuring that as many of the clients as possible could be protected and their respective files progressed without significant disruption.”
The sale to London based Alexander and Partners was completed in late June with the new arrangement securing three additional positions although at this stage it is unclear which trading names and brands are being retained by the new owners.
The Italian restaurant chain has been granted permission by the high court to adopt a restructuring plan despite opposition from HMRC, the main creditor.
A judge granted permission which will see £43 million worth of debts owed to landlords and HMRC written off and 46 stores closed leaving the business with 97 outlets. The Honourable Mr Justice Richard Smith said in his ruling: “I am satisfied in all the circumstances of this case that the plan is a fair one.”
Prezzo, which is owned by Jampurchaseco Ltd, a company owned by Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Jonathan Goldstein, had previously entered a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in 2018.
In a statement from chief executive Dean Challenger, he admitted that soaring inflation had made it impossible for all their restaurants to stay profitable. He said the strategic reshaping of the business would allow it to focus on a sustainable future.
Slack & Parr
A Leicestershire based hydraulic and industrial pump manufacturer Slack & Parr have announced they are going into administration.
First founded in 1917 and based in Kegworth, the company was a longstanding and prominent manufacturer in the sector but encountered financial difficulties over recent years.
A statement released from the business said: “For over 100 years, Slack & Parr has grown to become a market leader in high precision engineering, supplying gear metering pumps and rotary flow dividers to high profile customers including leading automotive manufacturers.
“We welcome all interest in a sale of the business or its assets.”
The business suffered as a result of rising costs for energy, labour and raw materials. Amid mounting cash flow challenges, the directors looked at all options for the business before taking the decision to appoint administrators.
An Arbroath ATM producer is going into liquidation with the loss of 13 positions.
ATMRC was formed in 2007 as the ATM Refurbishment Centre, changing to its current title in 2010.
A statement from the directors said that they had been looking for alternative options for a number of months but regrettably a creditors voluntary liquidation proved to be the only viable option.
The business had seen a decline in the previous number of years with a reduction in the fees paid when retailers process card payments in 2018 forcing several redundancies and subsequent events such as Brexit and the pandemic hindering plans to diversify and expand into Europe.
A West Bromwich headquartered manufacturer of alloy wheels has gone into administration with hopes it can be sold as a going concern.
Rimstock and their Team Dynamics brand employs 74 staff at its premises and supplies several major automotive manufacturers.
The company has faced financial difficulties over the previous 12 months and had been in discussion with key stakeholders and investors in an attempt to secure funding for the business.
Without additional funds forthcoming, the management placed the business into administration.
A statement from the business said: “Rimstock is the UK’s only alloy wheel manufacturer, supplying into some of the world’s best-known luxury car brands. Unfortunately, however, the many challenges facing industrial manufacturers across the country, including rising raw material costs, have proved to be insurmountable.
“The immediate priority is to understand customer requirements for future supply and assess whether there is any interest in the business as a going concern.”
So whether the summer is quieter for your business or if it’s the busiest 12 weeks of your trading year – it can be the perfect time to start planning what the rest of 2023 and beyond will look like
Depending on your goals, our advisors will look at where your company is now and what choices you have available to you.
The most important step is the first one so make your appointment today, while the sun is still shining.