Liberty Steel’s impending collapse as furlough ends; private school shuts after 222 years; and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s film company owing millions to suppliers
The GFG Alliance that includes the UK’s Liberty Steel is likely to collapse when the furlough scheme ends at the end of September according to industry insiders. Its demise would see thousands out of work and hundreds of businesses left unpaid for services rendered.
ICSM’s Ian Carrotte has been warning of the industrial disaster for months as the unravelling of the David Cameron Greensill Capital scandal has led inevitably to the financial props to the steel business being kicked away.
“Sanjeev Gupta’s opaque finances have been at the heart of the problem,” said Ian Carrotte, “it is well documented that the GFG conglomerate is financially unsustainable and it on life support from the government’s furlough scheme. ICSM has huge concerns for the suppliers who range from the cleaners to other steel companies who are owed millions. The Government don’t want to hand Gupta any more cash and I think the likeliest outcome is the whole lot will go into administration and then the Government will step in as they can take control of the business.”
Around two million people remain on furlough prompting fears from ICSM that when the system ends it won’t just be Liberty Steel that goes under. The firm employs up to 5,000 people directly with thousands more reliant on the business. ICSM understands that 70% of Liberty Steel’s workforce are on furlough meaning 60% of their wages are paid by the taxpayer.
After 222 years a private school calls it a day
Ockbrook School has closed after more than two centuries of teaching school age children from pre-school to A levels in the sixth form. Based near Derby the school was founded in 1799 for girls before coming a co-educational boarding school in later years.
The Trustees said the school with 252 pupils had been loss making for years despite the fees of more than £4,500. Apart from the upset for pupils suddenly finding they will no longer be attending the school in September and the concerns of parents seeking alternative places suppliers are also worried by the decision which one supplier said, “came out of the blue.”
Numerous independent schools have closed since the start of the Covid-10 crisis including Ashdown house in East Sussex, the Minster School in York, and Moreton Hall Prep School in Suffolk. The reasons include parents loosing their incomes from the pandemic and pulling their children out of school and overseas students unable to travel due to the regulations.
Millions owed by a Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall business
The new owners of KEO Films, formerly owned jointly by the TV celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall has said it will try to pay off some of the money owed to freelancers. Passion Pictures bought the collapsed company this summer but when KEO crashed it owed staff and suppliers millions and insiders believe it is unlikely that all will be paid by the new owners.
Fearnley-Wittingstall and his fellow directors paid themselves millions in salaries despite the film company losing money as it ran up millions in debts. The Guardian reported that he had admitted the company had a poor reputation at paying invoices on time and hoped suppliers may get work from Passion Pictures and recoup some of their losses.
Ian Carrotte of ICSM said: “This is a classic case of a celebrity using their name to gain business and to avoid paying their bills on time with the ‘do you know who I am’ excuse. We have seen this many times where a famous person hoodwinks suppliers into giving credit on terms that are totally unacceptable in normal circumstances. It’s a pretty poor show that Hugh is suggesting those out of pocket can recoup their losses by working for the new company. My advice is as always to never accept payment terms which break your own credit agreements. Just because someone is a household name doesn’t mean they can’t go bust.”
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For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk