ICSM March 2023 Newsletter: News, Views, Features And Listings Of Recently Liquidated Firms

Welcome to our First Newsletter of 2024

It is important to remain positive as we move into 2024 having experienced a technical recession last year. Although the economic weather is stormy there are plenty of ways to stay ahead and remain in profit in business.

So, without further ado here are ICSM’s top ten policies to beat a recession:

1 Cash is king, and a healthy cash flow is better than having to wait months for one cheque that will pay all the bills. It is better to have lots of smaller regular orders that keep the bank account ticking over and allow you to settle invoices as they come in.

Reduce expenses by taking a forensic look at all your overheads. From the directors taking a salary cut to moving to cheaper accommodation and from ending expensive long term hire contracts for vehicles or kit – to buying older vehicles and machinery that are vital for business - knowing you have no more regular contractual payments.

3 Lower liabilities by reducing borrowing, paying off loans and cutting down on your overdraft – if you are lucky enough to have one.

4 Pay your tax bill and VAT on time. The taxman and VAT will not hesitate to apply for a winding up order to put pressure on a struggling firm – so many companies come a cropper once the word is out a court has agreed to a winding up order. Suppliers will put you on stop and lenders will call in loans.

Cutting staff is not easy but it is vital to check to see if a smaller workforce can still operate the business at existing levels. A few jobs saved now can save a considerable amount in the short term and when things pick up you can always rehire. If you are straight with a workforce they may not like it but they will respect it.

Communication with suppliers when things are sticky is vital. If you are unable to pay an invoice on the dot contact them beforehand to explain the situation and offer payment dates – you’ll be surprise that most will understand.

Diversification is something to look at as it can create new revenue streams. Is that van of yours standing idle for days when it could be on the road as a courier working for a different company – if you have an in-house printer can you advertise that you offer printing as a side line? Carry out an audit of what you have and see if there’s a secondary service you can offer without having to increase overheads dramatically.

Invest in new technology if it means you can increase business. We had a printer friend who worked hard to make the business pay but found when she bought a new Direct to Film (DTF) machine, she could also print onto fabric and increase business – and she was able to get what was called a proof of concept grant from her council. It doubled her turnover and it led to new markets. Have a search to see if you qualify for a grant.

9 Working with strategic partners is something we often overlook in business. But on a trading estate or a business centre there are often allied businesses which are not competitors. An office supply firm and an office designer. A copywriter and a publisher. A courier and a mailing house. Certainly it is worth checking out as it can lead to lasting business relationships where both parties benefit.

10 We have mentioned cashflow at the beginning – and slowly building up a cash reserve is equally important – just as you would at home.

ICSM can help by saving our members hundreds of thousands of pounds either through our free legal letters, our micro debt service or our debt collection service – so join today if you aren’t a member.

When a client can’t or won’t pay and give no valid reason for non-payment ICSM’s debt collecting service can help – we saved businesses of all types tens of thousands of pounds last year – improving their cash flow by settling outstanding accounts. We use diplomacy, patience and adhere to strict industry standards in order to make sure you are paid without upsetting your client. 

We also have a micro debt service for those annoying smaller overdue accounts which added together can increase cashflow – after all – it’s your money. And out free legal letters have prompted many a reluctant business to pay what is owed – prompted to do so by the threat of legal action.

Below are some of those stories that caused a stir – we break them up into different sectors with the most popular being the printing and allied trades, logistics, hospitality, retail and sales, legal and accounting, health and care and construction – although we cover almost all sectors of business as insolvency is universal from the mightiest such as Suisse Bank or Carillion or a smaller concern such as your local pub or high street shop.

Remember, ICSM is here to help all our members – so do make use of the website and ensure 2024 is the year to look back on as the year you thrived and survived.

Kind regards
Ian Carrotte
Proprietor of ICSM Credit

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com


Below are some of the recent stories on our website - there are hundreds more charting insolvencies and related issues with comment and features covering all sectors of industry. All can be found here: https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php

Print Industry Insolvency News: firm claims it is rebranding with zilch on its website as it admits to filing a Notice of Intention to appoint administrators 

By Harry Mottram: Already the writing is on the wall for Leicester based printing firm Greenshires as a Leeds law firm has warned of ‘immediate redundancies without prior warning or any consultation process.’ And the firm has posted a Notice of Intention to appoint administrators which flies in the face of their minimalist statement on their website that claims they are ‘rebranding’. Whether this is a euphemism for a phoenix as cynics may suggest as one explanation, we will soon find out but for a website to have no more information about what a firm does is a concern.

Print Week’s Jo Francis reported on a supplier who had raised concerns about the firm in the recent past while the industry journalist penned: “The NOI was filed on 12 February by John Lowe and Nathan Jones of law firm Shakespeare Martineau. The business, which traded as David Green Printers until the late 1980s, is owned by the Yell family. Greenshire Group’s most recent financial statements filed at Companies House are abbreviated and unaudited, for the year to 31 March 2023. The company employed 53, down from 61 the prior year. Amounts due to creditors within one year were nearly £2.8m. Greenshires Group had negative retained earnings of £579,543 at the balance sheet date.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM - the business membership group dedicated to fighting bad debts and late payers with many members involved in the print industry and allied trades – said: “We understand the Notice of Intention gives the firm protection from creditors until the 24th February after which if they do go into administration then sadly those suppliers owed money may have to wait to see what happens next.”

The company posted this statement on its website which has raised more questions than answers: “These are exciting times at Greenshires. We are in the process of not only rebranding, but continually expanding the services we offer to our customers. A true full-service print and packaging hub encompassing litho, carton, point-of-sale and very shortly the very best in rigid box design, print and production. At Greenshires we have the knowledge, experience and technology to deliver unmatched results with the minimum of hassle. Your brand isn't ordinary,
So why should your print be?”
Other recent related stories on our website in that sector:
Principal Mailing Solutions of Northampton call in administrators
Communisis in a pre-pack deal https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Culverlands owed more than £8.8 million when they collapsed https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Print acquisition firm collapses due to ‘factoring issues’ https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php

ICSM Business – Hospitality Insolvency News: a very sad end to a hotel and restaurant as contractors take away the tables and chairs on St Valentine’s when it should have been busy

By Harry Mottram: The ICSM stories of collapsing businesses that I report on are often far away or even abroad, but this was right on my doorstep. Yesterday (14th February, 2024) I was putting up a poster for an amateur dramatic play at the town hall in my home town of Axbridge when I noticed workers loading furniture from the Oak House Hotel into vans.

The hotel had been shuttered for some weeks with speculation in the town about what the situation was, but it all came to a head when the owners of the hotel (not the leaseholders who run the hospitality business) stated on social media that the hotel had closed, and the hospitality business was being liquidated.

The Oakhouse Hotel Limited incorporated in 2007 has ceased trading leaving numerous couples who had bookings there for wedding receptions in the lurch and out of pocket having lost their £500 deposits. Suppliers and potentially others such as lenders will also be counting the cost of the collapse as they await any news from the liquidators – although having looked at the most recent accounts published in Companies House it would suggest there’s little chance of anyone getting their money back in full or at all.

The contractors would not confirm where the van loads of tables, chairs and beds were going other than to say they had been contracted to take them away to an undisclosed site. It was the one day of the year – St Valentine’s Day – when you would expect the restaurant to be packed with romantic couples – not workmen carrying out the tables.

In 2021 when the hotel’s last full accounts were published, they showed a turnover of more than a third of a million pounds but a loss of just under £2,000 that year but with liabilities tens of thousands of pounds. This was the time of Covid which hit the hospitality industry hard – and it can be argued that the long-term effects of the way the public spend for their nights out, weekends away etc has changed habits – exacerbated by the Cost-of-Living Crisis. Running any business is tough when there is a downturn and the hospitality industry is more susceptible to household budgets being trimmed than most.

The fall-out had begun weeks ago when I was contacted by unhappy couples trying to find out what was going on at the hotel when their booking enquiries were not being answered. I could only refer them to the owners Luke and Melanie Sturman who are listed as the officers at Companies House and whose postal addresses are in Dorset.

With the hotel and restaurant closed for some time the rumours grew that something was amiss – and those rumours proved to be true as workers carried out the furniture in an undignified end to the business this week. The BBC and ITV News both ran stories of the hapless couples left high and dry and without a wedding venue after the collapse of the company. Scott Norton-Ashley and his fiancee Jolie Stokes spoke of their disappointment as they had planned everything around the hotel – which is a wonderful spot for a wedding with a church close by, a Square to spill out into – especially on a sunny day – and of course the historic setting in Axbridge.

Anton Booth and his fiancee Maddie told the BBC that there had been “a lot of confusion and panic” when a few weeks ago, the couple received an email from the venue’s in-house wedding planner, Amanda-Louise Knight, informing them that she no longer worked with them. She blamed the cost-of-living crisis that meant some wedding venues were struggling. This won’t be a comfort for the couples planning on using the hotel for their receptions as some like Nicole Boncquet and her fiancé Connor Creed had booked the hotel for an April wedding and now appear to have lost their £500 deposit.

Interestingly Luke Sturman noted in the accounts in 2021 that the business had focused on the hotel, bar and restaurant – but had decided to concentrate on weddings due to the profit margins – and couples will be aware that an average wedding is more than £20,000 while the reception can easily run up a bill for up to half of that depending on the number of guests.

Writing in the Axbridge Community FaceBook the owner Neil Jenkins reported: “I confirm the tenant company of the Oak House Hotel has gone into liquidation. For those who booked a wedding, room or event, my understanding is you will be contacted soon by the liquidator of the company with further information.” He went on to confirm that he was in talks with potential new tenants, and that he hoped the hotel and restaurant would reopen soon.

The Grade II listed building and hotel has had a number of transformations over the years – originally constructed as two houses and in the early 20th century it was for a time a petrol station. It dates back to (according to most sources) to the 11th century – but only in parts such as a fireplace and the well – one of the hotel’s most interesting features. However, the property was rebuilt and much of the building dates from the 17th and 18th centuries with later modernisations.

Every week hotels go bust and I list as many as I can for ICSM’s regular newsletters and stories on the hospitality sector with around 700 going to the wall each year. It’s a very tough business at times due to the harsh winds of the economy at times – but it is even harsher for the staff who lose their jobs and for the suppliers who are left with unpaid invoices. ICSM’s Ian Carrotte said anyone supplying hotels with products or services are wise to credit check them first and to put them on stop as soon as they fail to pay on time.
Other recent related stories on our website in that sector:
Famous names shut up shop such as Sunday Brunch and Copper and Ink https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Heather Mills’ VBites goes bust as more vegan food firms crash https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Rishi Sunak’s former restaurateur goes bust https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php

ICSM Business – Retail Insolvency News: Lloyds Pharmacy owes £293m to creditors as it goes bust - with hundreds more other chemists to close this year (and we list more retail casualties in 2024)

By Harry Mottram: despite Covid, the NHS pushing people to use pharmacies for a range of health conditions including inoculations and an aging population needing more medical help than ever, pharmacies have been closing around the country.

Now what’s left of Lloyds Pharmacy has gone into liquidation owing creditors an eye-watering £293 million pounds. James Stent writing for the trade publication Chemist and Druggist reported: “Some 514 companies and people are owed a total of £293 million by the now-defunct Lloyds Pharmacy, documents filed by its liquidators in Companies House last week (January 22) have revealed. Lloyds Pharmacy – now known on Companies House as Diamond DCO Two Limited - was the second largest multiple in the UK this time last year before the sale of all Lloydspharmacy high street branches was announced in November.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM - the business membership group dedicated to fighting bad debts and late payers with many members involved in the retail and healthcare sectors – said: “We understand that unsecured creditors will get nothing or next to nothing as there’s only £800,000 available for them according to the liquidators. There is they said only around £8m that can be realised for paying secured creditors such as lenders and the parent company while there is a long list of creditors. And the staff have been left high and dry – with many only hearing the news by e-mail apparently on Christmas Eve. The whole affair is totally unsatisfactory with the company that makes their signage left with £392,302 in unpaid invoices and several chemists such as J Hoots in our neck of the woods in Bridgwater left with the best part of a third of a million in unpaid bills.”

It is not however only a Lloyds Pharmacy problem as last year Boots shut 40 of its chemists and plan to close a further 200 this year. Sky News reported: “The bulk of closures so far has been driven by big companies like LloydsPharmacy and Boots. LloydsPharmacy has lost three quarters of its branches (1,087 out of 1,442) since 2017 and around two thirds (629 out of 984) in the past year.”

The reasons given by industry insiders are a mix of factors from rising operational costs, staff shortages and reduced government financial support. This is despite a rising patient demand as people age and more treatments and medicines become available and the Government has shifted more services out of GP practices and through the doors of chemists.

The Chemist and Druggist publication listed these firms as just some of the creditors:

·   Barrie Dear Sapphire Ltd - £480,356
·  Dears Stockbridge Ltd – £228,797
·  East Coast Healthcare Scotland Ltd - £321,544
·  Elton Properties Ltd - £116,928
·  Ettrick Health Ltd - £150,970
·  G J Maley Ltd - £1.4m
·  Jardines (U.K.) Ltd - £113,997
·  Jhoots Pharmacy Ltd - £322,144
·  L. Rowland & Company (Retail) Ltd - £6.2m
·  Makan Investments Ltd - £228,812
·  Microsoft Ltd - £269,626
·  Mutley Properties (Holdings) Limited - £125,535
·  Primary Health Investment Properties Ltd - £161,984
·  Savory & Moore (Jersey) Ltd - £495,041
·  Sign Specialists Ltd - £392,302

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said the retail sector – and in particular those in traditional High Street locations – had been under pressure due to online shopping, hikes in interest rates and energy costs as well as high business rates and a fall in footfall. He said it was harder to understand the failure of instore shops inside supermarkets as they had a high footfall as people went shopping. He said like many ills in the country the Government needed to take action as funding was clearly a problem for chemists who by and large are small businesses that cannot absorb rising costs in the way larger retailers can. His words were echoed by Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies.

He told the BBC there was a shortfall of £1.1bn in funding for independent pharmacies every year. He said: "This has led to many pharmacies severely struggling with cashflow problems. On top of that, we've got the workforce challenges that we have been struggling with for so many years. We are urgently needing the government to step in and provide that funding,"

The Council for UK Retailing also listed these retailers who have hit the buffers this month: Tile Choice, a Midlands tile wholesaler/retailer with 18 retail stores; Box.co.uk, based in Sutton Coldfield; Wine Retail, the company that acquired 28 stores when Oddbins (the wine merchant/off-licence) went into administration in 2020, is reported to have been placed into administration itself; Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton, originally opened in 2015 as the second site under the Keelham brand, went into administation in January 2024; Market Village, Perry Barr. Market Village, a market within Perry Barr One Stop Shopping Centre (north Birmingham), has been put into administration and has closed, leaving thirty retailers (mostly sole traders) unable to reclaim their stock or to continue trading; Sook, the first administration of 2024, was a retail pop-up specialist in like London, Birmingham, Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds and Kent with one unit in Johannesburg.
Other recent related stories on our website in that sector:

Body Shop goes bust as competitors move in on their market https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Collapsed Temperley brand owed £31m https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Paperchase calls in administrators https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php

ICSM Business - Logistics Insolvency News: staff and unsecured creditors ‘won’t get a penny’ from collapsed haulage company

By Harry Mottram: They may have been in business for 65 years and survived the recessions of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the Credit Crunch of 2008 but when Covid came along in 2020 WJ Capper Transport of Telford in Shropshire the writing was on the wall. A drop in business, staff shortages, increased wages and hikes in fuel, energy and borrowing costs meant the family firm was insolvent according to the administrators FRP Advisory Trading.

However, hundreds of a family run firms in the logistics industry didn’t go under so there will be a few eyebrows raised as to the whys and wherefores – especially as the administrators have confirmed unsecured creditors and the staff are unlikely to receive any of the money they are owed. In 2022 the firm was trading at a loss – the administrators were reported by Chris Tindall in Motor Transport as saying: “The company’s financial issues were further complicated in early 2023 when the business and several connected companies were placed into a period of critical payments following an overpayment to one of the connected companies. This saw a significant proportion of creditors fall into arrears. Consequently, the company was insolvent on the basis that it was unable to pay its debts as and when they fell due.”

That statement appears to explain the financial mess the company that employed 40 staff had got themselves into which suggests Covid wasn’t the only reason they collapsed without paying unsecured creditors – although as Tindall reported a failed company voluntary arrangement (CVA) and attempted sale last October finished them off.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM - the business membership group dedicated to fighting bad debts and late payers with many members involved in the logistics industry – said the lesson is that at the first hint of trouble the financial director or equivalent needs to act. He said: “It is usually possible to look ahead at the next six months by inspecting the order book to get an idea of where a business is going. If the business is likely to experience cash flow problems, then a new strategy is needed quickly – slash overheads, lay-off some workers or trim the hours worked, sell any high value kit that is not essential and look at consolidating into a smaller and cheaper premises. When things pick up a business can expand. However, once the word goes out that a firm is in trouble it is only human nature for suppliers and customers alike to give it a wide berth. It results as happened here that suppliers and staff end up without a penny once the firm ceases to trade – according to the administrators.”
He said that if you are aware of a business is in trouble then checking them out on ICSM’s website can save a firm money and their owners sleepless nights.
Other recent related stories on our website in that sector:

West country courier firm goes under due to rising costs https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Flyby leaves suppliers and customers high and dry https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Haulier pocketed Bounce Bank Loan is jailed https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php

ICSM Business News: puzzlement over how former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio’s company owed £700,000 to the taxman

By Harry Mottram: Reading the comments online from business people and the self-employed about the court case involving Lawrence Dallaglio Limited and a winding up petition lodged by HMRC there was puzzlement on how the business could run up a tax bill of £700,000. Comment after comment pointed out that if they owed that kind of cash to the taxman they would have been wound up much earlier and some even suggested there was an element of ‘old boys club’ in action. Several pointed out that basic accounting would have prevented such a situation occuring. 
Judge Sebastian Prentis dismissed a personal bankruptcy petition lodged by tax officials against the one time rugby union star Lawrence Dallaglio after a voluntary agreement was made with HMCR allowing the money to likely to be paid in instalments. Otherwise Dallagio could have been made bankrupt – although the judge said the case would be reconsidered on October 11.
Dallagio is no stranger to controversy following allegations of drug abuse and was criticised for suggesting Wasps RFC should be treated differently to Worcester Warriors over both club’s financial collapse due to the Wasp’s heritage factor in the game.
Many sports stars have set up companies that have gone bust or have been made personally bankrupt. Ian Carrotte of ICSM said: “Just because they have excelled in their sport doesn’t mean they are any good in business or fiscally responsible with their own money. From boxer Mike Tyson to Mancehster United’s Wes Brown there’s a long history of sportsmen and women coming a cropper. My advice to suppliers to famous people and celebrities is never to accept the ‘do you know who I am’ when an invoice is unpaid. They should be treated like any other business.”
Other recent related stories on our website in that sector:

Rugby’s Premiership in crisis as another Worcester goes bust https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
National League South football club has winding up order from the taxman https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php
Game, set and match as Boris Becker is jailed for ripping off creditors https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/index.php


More news on the ICSM  New website - updated every week with stories from all business sectors including the printing and allied trades, logistics, legal and finance, plus hospitality, holidays, sales and retailing.


Types of Insolvency

Administration applies to limited companies and partnerships and is intended to get the company out of trouble and trading again if possible. Administrators can be appointed to a company that is unable, or is likely to become unable, to pay its debts. They can be appointed by the courts (on application from a creditor, directors or partners), the holder of a qualifying floating charge over the assets of the business, or the company or its directors. An administrator's primary goal is to rescue the company as a going concern. If this isn't possible, the administrator will try to get a better result for the creditors than would be possible if the company was wound up. If neither of these is possible, the administrator will sell the company's property to make at least a partial payment to one or more secured or preferential creditors, such as employees or the bank.
Administrators Meetings Para 51
This statement by the administrator of his proposals must be accompanied by an invitation to an initial creditors' meeting (Sch B1, para 51(1)).
This can only apply to individuals (including sole traders and individual members of a partnership). Bankruptcy petitions may be presented to the court by the individual, by creditors who are owed £750 or more, or by the supervisor of an individual voluntary arrangement. A bankruptcy order is made by the court.
Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA)
A company comes to an arrangement with its creditors to pay the debts in full or in part over time. A CVA begins with the company (or its adviser) drafting a formal proposal at a Creditors' Meeting to pay part or all of the debts. If the proposal is accepted by the creditors, the arrangement will become legally binding and the directors will retain control of the company.
Compulsory Liquidation
This is the winding up of a company or a partnership by a court order (a winding up order). A petition is normally presented to the court by a creditor stating that he or she is owed a sum of money by the company and that the company cannot pay.
The Official Receiver becomes liquidator when the order is made but an Insolvency Practitioner will be appointed to take over if the company has significant assets. The liquidator's role is to realise the company's assets, pay all the fees and charges arising from the liquidation, and pay the creditors as far as funds allow in a strict order of priority.
Compulsory Liquidators Appointed S 136
When a winding-up order has been made, the Official Receiver is initially appointed as liquidator (section 136, IA 1986). The company's creditors and contributories may appoint another individual, who must be a registered insolvency practitioner, to act as liquidator (section 139, IA 1986). More than one liquidator can be appointed to act jointly.
Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation
Here the shareholders pass a resolution to wind the company up without the need for a court order. A Creditors' Meeting is held to nominate the appointment of a liquidator and consider a statement of affairs. Creditors can appoint a committee to work with the liquidator, whose role is to realise the company's assets, pay all the fees and charges arising from the liquidation, and pay the creditors as far as funds allow in a strict order of priority.
Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation Deemed in Consent Meeting
Creditors are now 'deemed to have consented' to a decision or resolution if 10% of creditors (by value) have not objected to it. In other words, if objections are not received by the specified decision date, creditors are 'deemed to have consented' to the decision or resolution.
Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
An individual comes to an arrangement with creditors to pay his/her debts in full or in part over time as an alternative to bankruptcy. The arrangement is set up by a licensed Insolvency Practitioner who will put it to a meeting of creditors. If the proposal is accepted at the meeting, the agreement reached with the creditors will be legally binding. An Interim Order is sometimes issued by a court and will immediately protect the debtor from any legal action by creditors.
Petitions to Wind Up
A winding up petition is a legal notice put forward to the court by a creditor. The application, in effect, asks the court to liquidate the company as they believe the company is insolvent. Proceeds of the liquidation can be used to pay back creditors.
Secretary of State
The Secretary of State may appoint an insolvency practitioner as liquidator or trustee as an alternative to holding a meeting of creditors in certain circumstances.



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ICSM, The Exchange, Express Park, Bristol Road, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 4RR. Tel: 0844 854 1850. www.icsmcredit.comIan.carrotte@icsmcredit.com


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