What important business & insolvency stories happened this week?

Despite a very late heatwave arriving this weekend, we’re firmly into Autumn. 

So if you’re taking one last chance to use up the rest of the BBQ fuel or have a surprise busy weekend if you’re a summer or seasonal business – you can find a few minutes to catch up on all the interesting business and insolvency news stories from the past seven days here. 

So whether you’re interested in finding out if we are seeing the start of the great British slowdown; why more pubs are vanishing for good this year and why seasonal businesses can take advantage of a CVA with special conditions just for them – find them and more!

Victoria Plum

Bathroom specialists Victoria Plum have been purchased by new owners in a pre-pack administration deal. 

AHK designs acquired the company, one of the UK’s biggest online bathroom retailers, in a straightforward acquisition last week. They now join Beds.co.uk and furniture sellers Cox & Cox as part of AHK’s portfolio. 

All 300 staff transfer to the new owner. 

Business analysts said that inflation in global freight costs and downward pressure on consumer spending had impacted profitability and cash flow in recent months. 

Jersey Reds

Last year’s Rugby Union Championship winners Jersey Reds have ceased trading with immediate effect and will go into liquidation. 

The club have confirmed they would be unable to pay players and staff salaries for September and would not fulfil their next cup fixture against the Cornish Pirates. 

A statement from chairman Mark Morgan said: “We had been able to start the season and maintain sufficient funds to cover the summer, but regret that our conversations with potential new investors as well as existing ones have been unsuccessful. 

“At one stage at the end of last season it appeared there was a viable way forward for the second tier once the new Professional Game Agreement was implemented from Summer 2024 but Championship clubs have been left in the dark since that point and this led to growing fatigue among those who may have invested, but could not be given any concrete assurance about when the new structure would come in, or how it would be funded. 

“There are a large number of players, coaches and other members of staff who have made huge contributions to the club in recent seasons, and we regret that the massive effect this will have on all of them – it’s a very sad day.”

Inland Homes

An AIM listed housebuilder and developer has gone into administration this week. 

Inland Homes was formed in 2005 and specialised in developing brownfield sites but has told investors that it expects trading in its shares to be cancelled on October 4th as its latest annual accounts will not be published on time. 

The group had already been charged with a probe of related party relations and transactions under a previous management team. 

A statement from the group said: “Taking into account the current circumstances and including the group structure and current cash resources available to it, Inland concluded that the appointment of Administrators in accordance with the provisions of the Insolvency Act is in the best interests of all stakeholders.”

As well as not being able to announce end of year results, the group confirmed they had not managed to secure a waiver from HSBC regarding an outstanding loan of £13.6 million. 

They confirmed that they would also likely breach covenants with other lenders shortly and had initiated discussions with them also.

Glasgow Car Movers

A vehicle transportation specialist has gone into administration with the immediate loss of 25 positions. 

Glasgow Car Movers was founded in 1999 and regularly transported more than 1,000 vehicles a week across the UK using a fleet of 28 HGVs from two hub locations. 

The business said it had experienced severe liquidity pressures in part due to the impact of the pandemic coupled with general rising costs. 

As there was no prospect of the business being able to trade profitably, administrators ceased trading immediately and began effecting an orderly wind-down of the business. 

Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust

150 positions have been lost with the closure of the Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust which runs Gloucester City Council’s leisure services this week. 

The charity had run the GL1 Leisure Centre and Oxstalls Sports Park for the past 15 years but the decision to close and wind down the charity was made. This means the gym and swimming pool along with the other facilities could be closed for up to a year as the current agreement between the charity and the council ran until the end of September 2024. 

Aspire’s board held a meeting and concluded that as they couldn’t continue as a going concern, they should go into voluntary liquidation instead. 

Like many operators, the charity was challenged by several financial pressures including the pandemic and more recently the rise in utility costs as well as generally high inflation. 

A statement from Gloucester City Council said: “We recognise it has been extremely difficult for leisure centres across the country and we understand the pressures the trust has faced. 

“We’ve worked with Aspire to try to support them with their financial challenges and reduce costs as well as committing to ongoing financial support. We are disappointed that Aspire did not feel able to continue beyond September and understand that this was a difficult decision.”

An Aspire spokesperson said: “We have done everything we can to meet some challenging conditions over the last few years. We hoped to continue for another year to ease the council’s search for another operator. 

“However, as a registered charity, trustees have a legal duty to only trade if funding is assured and risk is controlled. Trustees felt unable to trade legally as a going concern. 

“We’ve now taken the incredibly difficult decision to wind up the charity and go into liquidation as we believe we are no longer able to operate legally in the way that we would wish.” 

Axiom Ince

A national law firm is appointing administrators and looks to close after several troubled months. 

Axiom Ince have announced their intention to appoint administrators as the Solicitors Regulation Authority confirms they are investigating the business and its practices following its decision to suspend three directors of the business in August following allegations that clients money was used to fund business purchases including property.

The Metropolitan Police have also opened an investigation following notification by the SRA. 

Several staff have left the business over the previous week and joined other law firms from their offices in Swindon and Bristol. 

Robinsons Artisan Family Bakery

A 159 year old family bakery in Manchester has announced it will close before the end of the year after it was unable to find a buyer. 

The Robinson Artisan Family Bakery issued a statement saying that it was with great sadness that the family had been forced to settle on the decision. 

They said: “This was due to several factors, but the overwhelming economic crisis and ever increasing cost of energy, utilities and never ending spiralling cost of ingredients.”

“The business has been in the family and survived two world wars and Covid but unfortunately the struggles of 2023 have proved to be just too much. We almost made it to 160 years but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be.”

UK Windows and Doors

Over 500 positions are set to be lost with immediate effect as a national windows and doors manufacturer based in South Wales goes into administration. 

UK Windows and Doors has three sites based in the country. 

Matthew Scoffield, chief executive, said: “There is no doubt that recent economic uncertainty and cost inflation have had an impact on our business and our industry.”

The group was formed in 1953 and is one of the UK’s largest PVCu window and door manufacturers making over 10,000 frames and 15,000 glass units per week. 

A statement from the business said: “Recent economic uncertainty due to high consumer price inflation, rising interest costs and the associated reduction in consumer confidence has led to house builders slowing down their build programmes and retail window companies experiencing a fall in demand.

“This has resulted in a further large reduction in demand for the company’s products, leading to losses and associated funding requirements at an unsustainable level.”

Michael Lonsdale Group

One of the UK’s largest mechanical and engineering contractors has appointed administrators. 

The Michael Lonsdale Group has been operating since 1986 from offices in London and Berkshire and turned over more than £2.9 billion in 40 years of previously successful trading. 

A statement from the business said that the company had been forced to this position due to a combination of problems caused by Covid, Brexit and recently the Ukraine conflict “which has added further strain, with surging inflation, workforce shortages, project delays and major supply chain disruptions.

“Our credit rating has suffered due to our limited credit with many suppliers, necessitating the need to make proforma payments for goods – a practice that is unsustainable for a business of our scale with an annual turnover of £250 million. 

“The combination of these challenges, coupled with the aggressive commercial tactics employed by certain general contractors has regrettably led to this unfortunate situation.”

The statement said that directors had tried to secure a refinancing deal “but we were unable to obtain the necessary interest from potential investors within the construction industry.”

It’s important for companies to enter the crucial last quarter of the year in the best shape so they can take advantage of the uptick in custom as we approach the buying season.

One of the best ways to do this is to arrange a free consultation with one of our team of advisors whenever it’s most convenient. 

One of our team of advisors will be able to explain all the options available to you and your business and how they can be most efficiently and effectively implemented.

The sooner you get in touch, the sooner you can begin!