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Agenda West

Pic: The Scotsman

I’m a fashion retailer – get me out of here! Arcadia on the brink of collapse – potentially leaving suppliers high and dry and 13,000 workers unemployed

Sky News has reported what ICSM Credit’s members have been saying for weeks that Arcadia is about to go into administration.

Famously owned by the bad boy of British retailing Sir Philip Green the group features some of the biggest names in the high street. TopShop, TopMan, Burton and Dorothy Perkins to name but a few could disappear if Arcadia collapses with Covid-19 lockdowns being the final nail in the coffin.

Pic: FT. Sir Philip Green has been in the news for all the wrong reasons 

Suppliers and staff could lose out

ICSM Credit’s Ian Carrotte has been warning members of the credit intelligence group for weeks about the industry’s concerns about Arcadia.

“Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia has been in trouble for many months,” he said, “and if it is the end then thousands of workers and hundreds of suppliers will pay the cost of mismanagement and a certain amount of bad luck.”

The bad luck he alludes to is Covid-19 and the way the Government has hit retailers and businesses in general with the lockdowns.

Pic: Cara Delevinge models a faux fur for Topshop

Mark Kleinman, City editor of Sky News reported: “Sky News has learnt that Arcadia Group – which owns TopShop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – is preparing to appoint administrators from Deloitte as soon as next week. One retail industry figure said Arcadia’s collapse had become inevitable after talks with a number of lenders about an emergency £30m loan ended without success.

“The appointment of administrators could happen as early as Monday, although one person close to the situation said the plan had yet to be finalised and that it could yet be delayed. If the insolvency is confirmed, it is expected to trigger a scramble among creditors to get their hands on the company’s assets.

“It would involve Arcadia’s online operations and the stores which are permitted to open under lockdown restrictions to continue trading, according to one retail figure.

“Arcadia’s pension scheme is likely to have the biggest claim on proceeds generated by Deloitte, with TopShop and TopMan – the most valuable brands in Sir Philip’s empire – likely to be worth several hundred million pounds.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Those gatekeeper excuses on why you’ve not been paid including ‘the finance director is not here today,’ plus 20 more you don’t want to hear

ICSM Credit has heard just about every excuse in the book as to why one of our members has not been paid by a client. Chasing payment from a small business or a sole trader may involve visiting the person who authorises payment in their office or even at their place of work or home and putting them on the spot. When it comes to larger firms there is often a gate keeper or the accounts department is physically impossible to reach. That’s when the phone and email appears to be the only way to chase up a late payment. And that’s where the process of getting paid takes on Kafkaesque overtones – a nightmarish round of incomprehensible excuses why you haven’t been paid.

Company disinformation

One of the most irritating company policies to delay payment is the policy of disinformation. When you call the company after an invoice is unpaid there are different excuses, with each one designed to deliberately delay payment. When all of these have been used up and the creditor has lost patience then lobbying the owner or and financial director personally is the final option before legal action.

The problem is often they seem uncontactable. They are out of the country, don’t have a mobile and there doesn’t seem to be an email for them. When you eventually track them down they apologise and claim nobody has told them of the debt and they authorise payment immediately. But you have a strange feeling it may all have been a ruse or a charade. They knew all along you hadn’t been paid and pretended the accounts department were either incompetent or inefficient.

20 excuses you’ve probably heard

We won’t list ‘the cheques is in the post’ as nobody writes cheques these days but it’s a euphemism that can be used for all of these:

1 Our accounts department is very busy.

2 Our customer hasn’t paid us yet.

3 The financial director is on holiday.

4 We’re in the process of switching bank accounts.

5 Out payment terms changed so there will be a delay.

6 We haven’t any record of your invoice.

7 The person who requested the work had no authority.

8 You haven’t put a purchase order number on your invoice.

9 We have gone into administration.

10 We have been bought out and the new owners need to audit all invoices.

11 Our next payment run isn’t until the end of next month.

12 Your invoice is incorrect.

13 We can’t pay.

14 The person who authorises payment is in a meeting.

15 The person who authorises payment has suffered a family bereavement and is on compassionate leave.

16 The person who authorises payment isn’t in the building.

17 The person who authorises payment is off sick.

18 Our computer system is down.

19 We are in the middle of an office move.

20 Our accounts department has moved.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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We can’t keep going into lockdown – Ian Carrotte on how the Government’s Covid-19 policy is destroying business and creating the worst recession in living memory

End these insane lockdowns and the Covid-19 hysteria now before the country is totally ruined.

Lockdowns destroy businesses despite the furlough scheme, loans and grants as industry cannot stop and start on the dictate of a Cabinet minister or a medical adviser.

Lockdowns prevent people having their cancer scans, health checks and operations as many are terrified by the coverage that Covid-19 gets in the media. And that fear factor has clouded the minds of many to an extent they would rather stay at home with a serious medical problem than dial 999.

Lockdowns are not necessary as Sweden has shown. Sensible precautions and social distancing has meant their economy has not been ruined while the death rate is no different from most equivalent Western nations. And yet they have encouraged social distancing, mask wearing and working at home if possible but the draconian measures the UK have introduced were not put into law. They treated their citizens as grown-ups.

With lockdowns there is the dubious legal aspect as outlined by the former supreme court judge Jonathan Sumption this week. The government has effectively outlawed dissent, placing most of the population under a type of house arrest and banning a range of activities and civil liberties such as playing tennis that you would associate with a totalitarian state. And this is supposed to be a libertarian Conservative Party in office. Instead we have a small group of people who have never run a business or not known where their next pay cheque will come from making all the decisions. Decisions which often fly in the face of common sense. They appear out of touch with the business community and out of touch with the lives of normal people. No wonder the likes of the chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady is on the warpath.

The Office of National Statistics (that’s the Government’s own compiler of information) continues to publish data about the effects of the pandemic and the way it is being tackled that contradict the views of Downing Street. The numbers of excess deaths in comparison to previous years that are not attributed to Covid-19 is now running in the tens of thousands. Suicides, mental illness and domestic violence are all up. In short the cure is as bad as the way the virus is being tackled.

And then there is the effect on jobs, businesses and the economy. And I’ve not even mentioned the massive borrowing by the Chancellor to pay for all the schemes.

We’ve got a Brexit trade deal to sort out, a full scale recession in progress, record numbers of businesses calling it a day, a potential trade deal with the USA in the balance and millions out of work together with a lost generation of young people.

I speak to businesses every day at ICSM Credit and there is real concern that they have been forgotten. Around a million self-employed haven’t received a penny in the lockdowns, sole traders as Limited companies have been missed out as has anyone starting a business since April 2019. And then there are the firms who can only survive by shedding jobs or closing and doing a phoenix.

Like many I do not have the confidence in the accuracy of the statics and graphs touted at press conferences by the powers that be. Yes we must protect the NHS so it isn’t over whelmed but surely with all what we’ve learnt this year it cannot be as bad as March when the virus killed so many.

I will say it and I will say it again. Like Sweden we must get used to the idea of living with Covid-19.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Urgent ICSM Credit Industry Wide Warning: beware the dodgy debt collectors who only want more of your money for doing nothing

Pictures posed by an actor

Urgent ICSM Credit Industry Wide Warning: beware the dodgy debt collectors who only want more of your money for doing nothing

The scenario seems to make sense. A client of yours went bust owing £10,000 a few months ago leaving you angry and massively out of pocket. You even had to cut costs and take out a loan to survive. Then a company contacts you to say they can get your money back as the directors of the defunct company were trading fraudulently.

Official Receiver’s list

It sounds plausible but there is a catch. To proceed with the recovery work there’s a fee based on the percentage of the amount your client owed you plus VAT and a basic admin fee. ICSM Credit members have had a number of these firms contact them offering to recoup your losses. As soon as you agree to their terms by email they consider it a legal contract and you are then sent an invoice. For the £10,000 debt there’s a 2% charge, a £75 admin fee and VAT on top. And so far they’ve not done any recovery work. If you pay up the requested amount at least you might feel the bulk of the £10,000 will soon be in your bank account. Wrong – you’ve been conned. The so-called debt collector pockets the money and does nothing.

“We have known cases where the Lazarus debt collector (as I call them) then asks for a release fee claiming to have secured the debt,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit. “One member sadly fell for it sent another couple of hundred pounds to them only for the Lazarus operation to send a fresh invoice for administration. Of course they have not even approached the debtor. They have taken their details from the Official Receiver’s lists to make it sound like they know the business. It’s a con.”

Ian Carrotte said the difficult trading conditions created by the pandemic and its effects on business had led to an upsurge in firms going bust or not paying their bills.

“The Lazarus debt collectors are back,” he said, “so be on your guard. To collect long standing debts there are set ways to go about it. At ICSM Credit we have secured hundreds of thousands of pounds this year for members by using our trusted professional and effective methods of a combination of diplomacy and legal methods. And the golden rule is never part with cash up front – no professional company would expect that.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST BUSINESS NEWS: Are the DVLA selling your commercial vehicle details to cowboy parking firms? Plus hauliers collapse into administration due to Covid-19

With a drop in retail footfall there has been a fall in the number of haulage contracts to ferry in goods to high street traders. It is one of the knock on effects of Covid-19 which has led to financial difficulties for some haulage companies.

Ian Carrotte said there had been a string of casualties this year due to the pandemic but many of the hauliers going bust had historic debt which could no longer be serviced.

“Anecdotally we have heard from members of ICSM Credit that some hauliers have been switching to vans to use in the home delivery industry,” he said, “we’ve also noticed increasing nervousness in the haulage industry over the approaching deadline for the Brexit deal with the news of the Kent Access Permit leading to more uncertainty within the industry.”

DVLA challenged

Writing in the trade publication Motor Transport Chris Tindall has reported on an Essex haulier who suspects something rotten in the state of the DVLA.

He wrote: “KBC Logistics said it had complained to the licensing agency for ‘misuse of keeper data’ as it receives around six letters a day from parking firms claiming it owes them money. The company refused to back down when UK Car Park Management attempted to take legal action over an unpaid £60 PCN.”

ICSM Credit ran the story earlier this year as many companies and members of the public have been stung by cowboy parking firms who send out bogus demands for payment.

“KBS Logistics couldn’t believe the amount of demands they were getting,” said Ian Carrotte, “and the most obvious source of the information that firms were getting was from Swansea.”

Now KBS has contacted the DVLA to demand an explanation. The haulier’s MD was reported by Chris Tindall as having said: “For the last two years I have received several hundred letters from these companies and associated collection agencies threatening action for the unpaid penalties, the oldest one being June 2017. The amount of correspondence is ridiculous.”

A DVLA spokesman said in a statement: “We are writing to the customer with regards to his concerns and the specific issues mentioned in the letter.”

Truckfast Truckserve liquidated

Motor Transport have reported that the Dartford-based independent HGV rental company Truckfast Truckserve is being wound up after liquidators were appointed to the firm.

The trade publication said: “Incorporated six years ago, Truckfast specialised in contract hire, rental and leasing of heavy commercial vehicles. Its fleet included 6×2 tractor units; 8×4 tippers; skip loaders; flatbeds and curtainsiders. The last available set of accounts, for the year ending 31 August 2019, showed that the company possessed fixed assets of £746,500. Following a virtual meeting of creditors on 28 September, a resolution was passed for the business to be wound up voluntarily and Philippa Smith at Smith & Barnes insolvency practitioners was appointed as liquidator. Smith & Barnes did not respond as we went to press and Truckfast director David Allon did not return our calls.”

More hauliers go bust

In September Roanza, the Mercedes truck dealer entered administration after trading in the red and losing money for several years according to insolvency practitioners Jason Bell and Sarah O’Toole at Grant Thornton. The firm collapsed with losses of more than a million pounds and 441 staff losing their jobs.

In Gloucester the courier firm Lima logistics went bust but earlier this month John Dinman Transport bought the assets and business of the company. Motor Transport’s Chris Tindall reported: “The Pall-Ex member company appointed insolvency experts at Quantuma Advisory on 22 September after it became the latest victim of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lima Logistics, which was formed in 2015, is based on the Churcham business park, but owner John Dinham confirmed to motortransport.co.uk that it had purchased the business and intended to relocate the business by the end of next week.”

And finally it’s been reported that Cartwright Conversions, a subsidiary of the Cartwright Group in administration, has been sold to Sheffield-based Trek Group in a £4.8m deal. Chris Tindall said that the former staff who lost their jobs when the business entered administration are pursuing legal action after alleging that it failed to properly consult them.

Ian Carrotte said: “Businesses collapse even in the best of times when credit is easy and the economy is flying. But there’s no doubt the effects of the Government’s actions in tackling the Covid-19 crisis has forced many firms into liquidation. We will look back at some stage and realise that perhaps there could have been a better way to protect the economy as they have in Sweden.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Picture: ITV’s Paul Brand

Axbridge Chamber of Commerce member issues a red warning to firms who supply care homes with anything from brochures to blankets as the numbers closing or being liquidated rises – revealed in ITV’s shocking report

It was once seen as a rock solid business venture due to the increasing numbers of elderly people but with Covid-19 the retirement home sector has collapsed.

Hundreds of homes have closed due to the pandemic taking the lives of thousands of their residents.

“Relatives and their elderly parents and grandparents are reluctant to send them to a home,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit, “decimating the cash flow of the retirement homes and sending them into liquidation. Suppliers are not getting paid or being paid late, and when a care home group goes bust they can lose everything. It’s a red warning light to anyone who supplies carehomes.”

ITV reveals extent of problem

Paul Brand of Independent Television has reported on the crisis in care homes painting a dramatic picture of empty beds, grieving relatives and collapsing industry.

He wrote on ITV’s website: “Care homes across the UK are on the brink of closure due to a dramatic rise in empty beds during the Covid pandemic, ITV News can reveal.Figures we’ve obtained from 61 councils in England, Scotland and Wales show that across the country the number of vacancies has almost doubled in a year, rising by 88%.With responsibility for care devolved to local authorities, our data shows empty beds increasing across almost every council area, but homes in some parts of the country have suffered particularly acutely.

“In Liverpool, vacancies – or ‘voids’ as care homes refer to them – were up 395% in August compared with the same time last year. In East Cheshire they had risen by 249% and in Derbyshire by 169%.

“The picture was similar across each of the three home nations that provided us with data. In Wales, vacancies were up 153% in Caerphilly, 123% in Neath Port Talbot and 121% in Merthyr.In Scotland, Dundee’s voids have shot up by 318% in a year, while the rise in South Lanarkshire is 282% and 122% in Glasgow.”

Ian Carrotte noted that ITV cited two care homes run by Shaw Healthcare in Speke and Everton which were in danger of closing, while many more are teetering on the brink.

“Many care homes are part of a larger company,” he said, “but many are stand-alone businesses, often converted from former hotels. The Governments of the UK are putting in millions of pounds into care homes so they can buy more PPE and to help them during the crisis but it is widely reported that around 1,000 have closed since March. That’s a lot of suppliers left unpaid – so maximum caution if you are a business asked to supply a care home this winter.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST BUSINESS NEWS: Covid 19 causes more printers to call in the administrators, plus anger over the firm taking five years to pay suppliers

Incompetent management, bad debts or a lost client can all sink a business, but there’s a new one that Ian Carrotte is increasingly angry about: Covid-19.

“We are seeing on a daily basis perfectly viable businesses going to the wall because of the Government’s policies on suppressing the virus by shutting down entire economies,” he said, “shops, pubs, hotels, printers – you name it and firms are going bust like it was the Wall Street Crash. And it is all unnecessary as if we adopted the Swedish model, the economy would not be hit so bad. If you look at the statistics deaths per million there are no different from countries adopting the nuclear option and imposing lock-downs or Sweden that allows business as normal with sensible precautions.”

Westdale Press in administration

The print industry trade publication Print Week have reported the down fall of Westdale Press whose demise has been caused by Covid-19.

Jo Francis reported: “Administrators from Menzies were appointed at the Cardiff-based company yesterday (15 October) by managing director and owner Alan Padbury. Padbury told Printweek that he had strived to find a way to save the business, which employed around 85 staff. It previously had sales of £13m but had been ‘limping along’ at about £8m this year.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said the firm was highly respected but had been made unviable by the economic fall-out from the government’s business shut-downs.

He said: “I know the owner had fought long and hard to save the business even selling his car to raise cash and had tried every avenue there was. Sadly this is becoming a common event: viable businesses destroyed by the way the Government has handled this crisis.”

Creditors meeting for Publishing House

Insolvency practitioners Lisa Jane Hogg and Gemma Louise Roberts of Wilson Field in Sheffield have set a date on October 26, 2020, for a meeting of creditors for the Sunderland based firm Ogilvie Publishing.

Ogilvie Publishing was established in 2001 following a UK management buy-out from Houston-based Hart Energy. Ogilvie published three newsletters on the oil and gas industry:  E&P Daily, European Offshore Petroleum Newsletter and Asia Oil and Gas Newsletter.

One of the aspects of the Covid-19 crisis is the knock on effect to the oil trade. Industry commentator Arthur D Little said: “With the oil and gas industry currently locked into a cycle of oversupply, low prices and volatility, the economic downturn created by the COVID-19 crisis is likely to deal a major blow to many companies. Investors have found the sector increasingly unattractive over the past 10 years. Any further, prolonged period of low oil prices is likely to see them divert their capital elsewhere as the traditional oil and gas business model becomes even riskier and less commercially attractive.”

Ian Carrotte said the bottom had fallen out of the oil industry which has caused ripples across multiple sectors from redundancies to publications covering the business.

More jobs go in Belfast

The Irish Times have reported on the downfall of Ards in the city of Belfast. Gary McDonald the newspaper’s business editor reported: “Forty jobs will go after long-established Newtownards firm Peninsula Print & Design in Newtownards went into administration. The family-run company blamed the decision on the ‘catastrophic downturn in business’ over the last six months and also the ‘inestimable impact’ of the tragic loss of its founder and managing director Gary Withers in May. Peninsula provided print services for organisations across the business spectrum – from large multinationals and government departments to small businesses and self-employed sole traders.

“The company said that while every effort was made to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 by utilising the government furlough scheme, a significant drop-off in new orders meant the administration process was the only way forward.”

Ian Carrotte commented that it was another case of a viable business hit by a number of factors but finished off by the way Stormont had enforced Westminster’s Covid-19 rules.

Anger over Helloprint’s ‘antics’

Earlier this year the owners of Helloprint contacted ICSM Credit’s Harry Mottram complaining about his story on ICSM’s website.

They wanted a positive spin to be put on their business rather than the one also reported in Print Week by Jo Francis over the online print firm’s request to suppliers to be paid over five years rather than the usual 30 days.

Based in Holland but with a wide base of customers and suppliers including many in the UK the firm operates online by taking orders with upfront payment unlike traditional printers. It was this aspect that so infuriated the industry as the company had managed to run up millions of Euros in debt with suppliers.

Now Helloprint have announced they have had fresh funding which means they can continue in business. Print Week reported in September: “Earlier this year the print aggregator experienced a massive drop-off in sales and asked its print suppliers to help it survive by either accepting a percentage of what they were currently owed, or a deferred payment of the total amount plus interest, to be paid over five years.”

Jo Francis reported that the MD Scheffer had said that fresh funding of €5m (£4.5m) had now been secured over the summer, and “everything is back on track” blaming a 90% drop in orders on Covid-19.

“I note that Scheffer has blamed Brexit along with a software problem on their website,” said Ian Carrotte, “but they take cash up front and then take time in paying suppliers. They still owe creditors millions and these antics prompt real anger. You only have to see the comments on Print Week’s website about the story to realise how the print industry feels about this. I urge suppliers not to supply them with goods as their track record is terrible.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST BUSINESS INSOLVENCY NEWS: historic railway goes bust; Call Print leaves creditors with £1.2m in unpaid invoices; and family firm Clarks shoe shops seek CVA

The Covid-19 rules are destroying perfectly good businesses is the view of Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit. Politicians don’t seem to understand what they are doing to the business community as the rules are taking away customers and increasing unemployment more rapidly than any fiancial crisis he said. The failures include heritage railways and shoe shops – let alone pubs hit by the 10pm law.

Running out of steam

That bastion of good old fashioned news reporting the Cumberland and Westmoreland Herald has recorded the sad news that the South Tynedale Railway operator has entered administration with the loss of five jobs on the heritage line.

The newspaper said: “The company which runs the narrow gauge line between Alston and Slaggyford, has become insolvent and is no longer active, with five of its employees, based in Alston, having been made redundant. However, the separate South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society — which has run and developed the line since 1983 — is still going strong and its trustees and volunteers believe they might be able to keep their popular steam locomotives operating in future years. The line has been shut this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said any business that is only allowed 20% of its usual customers due to Covid-19 restrictions will fail. He said: “The Government needs to show more common sense in imposing the rules on all forms of business. You can squash onto a tube in London but not take your place next so someone on a heritage railway carriage. It’s leading to the demise of perfectly good operations.”

The trustees and volunteers will look after the railway site over the winter while consideration is given to a new business model under which the line could be run on a voluntary basis.

The end extended

Print Week’s Jo Francis has reported this week on the administration process for Call Print Group Ltd and Call Print Services Ltd which has been extended again.

She wrote: “In their latest progress report to creditors sent at the end of last month, joint administrators Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles of Duff & Phelps said that the administration had been extended by order of the court to 31 August 2021. An administration usually comes to an end after one year. The Call Print Group and Call Print Services process was originally extended on 1 August 2019.

“A year ago Printweek revealed that the administrators had found “material misstatements” in the group’s previously filed accounts and had deployed forensic accountants as part of an investigation into transactions that took place prior to its administration. A number of creditors were known to have flagged concerns about the sale of Callprint’s Dubai-based business, Call Print Express, to the group’s then-managing director Steve Cheek less than a month before the business filed an NOI (notice of intention to appoint administrators).”

Duffy and Wiles said in their latest report: “Previously, several letters before action were issued with a view to recovering funds for the companies, based upon evidence uncovered in the joint administrators’ investigations. The joint administrators cannot, at this stage, detail the nature of the claims made, as doing so could hamper any further actions which may be required.”

The majority of Callprint’s trade and assets were acquired by Hobs Group in a pre-pack deal. Callprint owed trade creditors more than £1.2m at the time of administration.

Shoe shops in trouble

Business Report have highlighted the plight of struggling family-owned footwear retailer, Clarks, as it seeks a settlement with its creditors.

They said: “A Company Voluntary Arrangement is being mooted, led by LionRock Capital. The CVA would involve up to 50 shop closures as well as a switch to turnover-based rents. Also upon the CVAs approval would be more than £100m fresh capital investment from the Hong-Kong based private equity fund. This would be the first time that the founding family shareholder would loose majority control over the company, in all of its 195-year existence.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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With apologies to Raquel Welch in the movie One Million Years BC

ICSM Credit’s Newsletter September 2020: Survival of the fittest in the economically chilling aftermath of the Covid-19 Crisis

2020 has seen the worst economic downturn since the 1930s according to economists – but there are reasons to be positive about 2021

Hello and welcome to our monthly newsletter,

Let’s face it, so far 2020 sucks. But on the positive side the worst may be behind us as the economy begins its climb out of the mess left by the Covid-19 shut-down. 

In the positive Darwinian sense if your business can survive a recession then it will only thrive as things improve. A bit like when mammals replaced dinosaurs after a meteor wiped them out 65 million years ago. Or in popular cinematic culture when Loana (Raquel Welch) and the Sea Tribe survive the volcano to emerge into a desolate landscape in the 1966 movie One Million Years BC to rebuild their lives. 

At ICSM Credit we monitor failing businesses that may go bust leaving a trail of unpaid invoices for suppliers. Together with our members we highlight them so suppliers don’t get left high and dry if the worst happens. Sadly this autumn will see more companies go bust as the furlough scheme ends but we have had success in saving our members hundreds of thousands of pounds in bad debts this year by flagging up problem firms. And our debt collection sector has never been busier or more successful – so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have a problem – or use our free legal letters to secure payment.

In this issue there is plenty of news about liquidations, CVAs, mergers and acquisitions in all sectors of UK businesses. One feature I think will be of interest is the one on ten positive changes you can make to your business in a post-pandemic world. It highlights the importance of keeping a tight grip on credit control, establishing reserves, consolidating costs, and pivoting your business among other useful tips.

One tip I will give is if you haven’t yet joined ICSM Credit yet is to to join now as we have a temporary free membership which ends when furloughing is scrapped – it could save your business from bad debts this autumn.

There’s lots more news on the website and on our social media on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – stay in touch and keep on keeping on.

Best wishes
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




ICSM Credit, the Exchange, Express Park, Bristol Road, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 4RR

Not a member? Normally you can join for less than a tank of diesel and protect yourself from late payers but we have a special free temporary membership offer in September. Use our free legal letters to chase unpaid invoices.

For a video on how to send a FREE LEGAL LETTER visit:https://youtu.be/AIycysoFhYo
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Covid-19: 10 positive changes you must make to your business in a post pandemic world

Thousands of businesses have gone to the wall and millions have lost their jobs – yes Covid 19 has been a disaster for the UK economy. Except for one aspect. Work and fiscal practices that may not have taken place in many work-places have been fast forwarded due to the urgent nature of the crisis. It’s all about survival.

1 Credit control must change

Many firms have not been paid by their clients for work invoiced before the crisis began in March. The shut-down hasn’t helped but in many sectors 120 days credit is not unusual. When a firm goes into administration the creditors are left with four months of unpaid work as well as any work in progress. If however a supplier insists on 30 days credit then clearly if the worst happens the economic hit is much less. Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said tight credit control is vital as it can be the difference of a company surviving or not going under if they are hit by a bad debt. He said discount invoicing for prompt payment simply undercut a firm’s profitability while factoring often meant a company was trading at a loss.

2 Have something in reserve

Too many businesses have virtually no reserves so when an unexpected bill comes in from the taxman or they hit a lean period such as the Covid 19 shut down meaning they run out of cash. Putting away money into a reserve account should be standard practice said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit. He said it was one the lessons that many companies have learnt to their cost with the only option to borrow to bail themselves out of a hole. A rule of thumb is to put by up to six months of all business costs in an account as a cash reserve. Whenever that reserve is eaten into then, as soon as possible, replace it. Easier said than done I’m sure some will reply.

3 Review your office requirements

With many people working from home a lot of firms have realised they may not need large city centre offices. One option is to down size to a hub or smaller office and ask staff to come in for one or two days a week and work at home for the rest of the time. A hub is essentially a small office with a meeting room and enough work spaces for hot desking.

4 Consolidate factory and workshops

Some firms work from more than one site. With fewer staff retained and an examination of surplus space it is possible for many businesses to consolidate onto one site. There is a saving in communication, logistics, labour, rent, business rates, utility bills and the storage of stock. It may also be able to reduce the amount of vans, pool cars and other high value kit which may be leased.

5 Cash is king

Having several smaller clients who pay regularly every month are a safer bet than a handful of major clients whose work is irregular if lucrative. Having all your eggs in one basket is always risky especially if your one major client gets into trouble or there is another pandemic. A large number of customers who pay on 30 days or less means your business will always have cash flow – and cash is king as it gives your business flexibility and the ability to pivot in a crisis and seek a new income stream.

6 Utilise what you have

Several manufacturers ranging from packaging to printing have moved into the production of PPE during the Covid-19 crisis. Other firms with virtually no business during the shut-down have reallocated their delivery vans into delivering for other firms.

7 Pivoting your business

If the business you are in is one of low profit margins and huge competitions driving prices lower take a look at options to pivot your enterprise into. Some traditional printers have moved into packaging, agricultural businesses have upgraded buildings into holiday lets, and shop-fitters into flat and home fitters completing work for estate agents and building firms. The important thing is once you see an opportunity is to do it quickly to save time and money. Over a period of years successful firms pivot from one type of business model to another.

8 Social media is not an add-on

Firms who have grasped social media when it first became a thing in the last decade have found during the lock-down they were able to continue getting their message across. For many companies the shut-down has been a wake up call as to how they communicate. One lesson of the Covid-19 crisis is that social media is not an option. Whether you are a pub, a litho printer, a marketing company or a legal firm building a following through Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube and all the other platforms prevents you from disappearing from your customers’ awareness.

9 Zoom in for a meeting

Sending executives or sales people half-way around the world for a one hour meeting is expensive and often unnecessary. Nobody is saying that face to face meetings are dead as in the old phrase, people buy people. But often those meetings can be conducted by Zoom or other formats on the internet. So many companies have been reviewing the ROI for not just meetings, but visits to trade shows, team building weekends, seminars and conferences which have sometimes been seen as at best rewards and at worst jollies.

10 Have a plan B

Many people have said their business went off a cliff on March 23rd. Literally no trade at all. And yet pubs were suddenly becoming take-aways, restaurants were doing home deliveries and retailers geared up to become entirely online businesses during the lock-down recording record sales. We don’t know if there will be another pandemic but something sooner or later will happen to disrupt business. Those of us who have long memories will recall the fuel delivery strike of the 90s, the three day week of the 70s and the Big Freeze of the 60s. Having a Plan B is vital just in case the worst happens.

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NEWS: Home Secretary intervenes over BooHoo’s suppliers scandal and retweets our story!

ICSM Credit’s Ian Carrotte has welcomed the intervention of the home secretary in the scandal that has rocked the UK fast fashion world over low wages and poor work practices.

“Priti Patel has made it plain to the owners of the fashion firm BooHoo that they have not treated their workers and suppliers properly,” he said, “paying below the minimal wage is illegal but the way BooHoo have cut off their suppliers and put the blame on them shows a callous attitude which will leave firms with unpaid invoices.”

In a letter to Boohoo CEO John Lyttle, Priti Patel wrote: “I am concerned that your response to recent reports of labour exploitation in your supply chains appears to be focused on terminating contracts with suppliers found to have breached your code of conduct, rather than on protecting vulnerable workers. I would expect Boohoo to work with its suppliers to ensure that workers are protected and remediated. It is now more important than ever before that businesses step up and take responsibility for conditions in their supply chain.”

The Manchester-based fashion firm had been exposed by the Sunday Times for paying workers as little as £3.50 an hour and refusing to let them leave their Leicester factories when unwell even when they had contracted Covid-19. The firm announced they would build a so-called model factory and end their relationship with their suppliers and set up a review process. However sceptics have suggested they were evading their responsibilities, pretending to address criticisms and have failed to pay suppliers and staff caught up in the scandal. One footnote to this story is that Priti Patel retweeted our story on Twitter. Even members of the Government read ICSM Credit News.

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MORE STORIES FROM ICSM’s WEBSITESEE THE WEBSITE FOR THE FULL STORIES – AND MUCH MORE

Duchess’ favourite store in CVA

Print industry liquidations mount as Covid-19 effect biteshttps://www.icsmcredit.com/news/viewpost.php?id=292

Crisis for the trade show industry as events pulled (full list of lost trade exhibitions here)

Sushi chain puts CVA on the menu

https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/viewpost.php?id=286

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OPINION
Furloughing has been abused by 33% of employers and resulted in new work practices which are bad for the economy
https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/viewpost.php?id=279

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Print Industry News: print trade shows pulled until 2021; problems for print trade press; magazine sales plunge during Covid-19; and Latimer Trend workers’ redundancy victory

With Print Monthly magazine currently online only, the Print Show, Fespa and Drupa pulled until next year and a raft of printing companies going to the wall it is fair to say Covid-19 has had a disproportionate effect on the industry here and abroad.

Trade shows put back

Writing on the Print Show’s website the director Chris Davies said: “We have made the difficult decision to postpone The Print Show 2020 and The Sign Show 2020 until next year, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) situation in the UK. The safety of exhibitors and visitors is our number one priority and though this was not an easy choice, we believe it to be the right course of action. However, we are delighted to confirm that The Print Show and The Sign Show will both take place in 2021. The shows will run from September 28th to 30th at the NEC in Birmingham and we will publish further updates as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile Drupa have moved their show back a year in Germany and Fespa has shifted their exhibition to the Netherlands next spring. Print Week reported: “Fespa has now effectively cancelled its 2020 event and brought forward the 2021 show, which had initially been penciled in for Munich in May 2021, avoiding a clash with next year’s rescheduled Drupa in Dusseldorf. The Fespa four-day 2021 Global Print Expo, which is co-located with European Sign Expo and Sportswear Pro, will now take place at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam on 9-12 March.”

Rob Fletcher has been holding the fort for Print Monthly

No show magazine and video news

Print Week published their July issue of the trade journal while the publication struggles to deal with the pandemic’s effects on the industry. Meanwhile rival publication Print Monthly has gone on line for the time being and the operation behind it have temporarily stopped their weekly video news for printers while most staff are furloughed. Consulting editor Rob Fletcher however has continued to load up stories to the website including the news that Zecher, an international provider of anilox roller solutions, has become the latest company to announce that it won’t be turning up to Drupa. Sadly a sign of our times as all trade shows are being hit. See our feature at https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/viewpost.php?id=280

Latimer Trend workers in compensation battle

Writing for Print Week Darryl Danielli highlighted a success for workers laid off by the Plymouth print outfit Latimer Trend when the company went bust.

He wrote: “Close to 50 former employees of Latimer Trend & Company, which collapsed just under a year ago, have won their ‘failure to consult’ compensation claims and their lawyer has warned directors to ensure they properly consult with staff over redundancies. The judgement, which was issued by the Plymouth Employment Tribunal last week, means the 47 staff that made a claim are each in line for additional payments of up to £4,304.”

He continued: “Presiding judge NJ Walker issued the judgement ‘by consent’, but the employees’ solicitor, Nuala Toner, managing director of employment specialist Nualaw, said that initially the administrators were going to defend, but agreed to a judgment by consent ‘after we pointed out that the defence was not particularly strong.’”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said that companies often claim ‘special circumstances defense’ when insolvency is involved. He said: “This case shows directors who often walk away with their salaries must at the very least inform staff of a firm’s demise as they can be held liable.”

Print Week reported that following the agreement, the former employees dropped various other claims against the company including some for unfair and constructive dismissal. They said a judgement by consent is where all the parties agree the terms in which a judgment should be given.

One of the comments posted on Print Week’s site wrote: “Failure to consult employees is a schoolboy error and company directors should know better. This often can be an expensive error and one employment judges at tribunal come down hard on.”

Gareth Ward

Print Business reports on poor magazine sales

Writing for the trade publication Print Business Gareth ward said: “Covid-19 has accelerated declines in magazine circulations, according to ABC figures for the first six months of the year. Some publishers are hoping for a bounce back as lockdown restrictions end and consumers are able to buy publications from newsagents as part of their daily ritual, but others are less sure. The last few months have been marked by high profile closures on both sides of the Atlantic: for example Q in the UK and O, the Oprah Winfrey magazine in the US.

“Magazines across the board have lost readers, from television listing titles to women’s interest and lifestyle. The only exceptions are in food and gardening, perhaps a reflection of activities that have been possible during lockdown. BBC’s Gardeners’ World increased sales 8% to 221,422 copies and Garden Answers rose 7% to 50,888.”

Ian Carrotte said the Covid-19 crisis had simply accelerated the decline in circulations in sales because people couldn’t get to the shops as normal. “Coupled with a long term drop in sales due to the internet,” he added, “it is no surprise the industry has had more bad news.”

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STOP PRESS

Dodgy print farmer of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ is back ripping off clients
https://www.icsmcredit.com/news/viewpost.php?id=285 

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Runners and Riders
Below is a collated list taken from the Government’s London Gazette of various businesses who are experiencing problems in the last few weeks. Ones that catch the eye include The Red Group Print & Design in the print and publishing world, while in transport Market Hall Logistics have gone and in the travel industry the high profile name of Travelex has gained national headlines, plus in the Covid-19 hit care home industry Wadsworth Care Homes went under – who will be next?

Administrators Appointed
Aero Technics Design Limited  44055
Bagel Nash Limited  44054
B.D. (S/W) Limited  44048
Belem Developments Limited  44048
Byron Hamburgers Limited  44046
Country Pub Group Limited  44048
Cruden Construction Limited  44048
Cruden Group Limited  44048
Cruden Property Services Limited  44048
Drayton Manor Park (Catering) Limited  44048
Drayton Manor Park Hotels Limited  44048
Drayton Manor Park Limited  44048
Floating Festivals Limited  44067
Foodpac Limited  44061
Forest Inns (UK) Limited  44054
Hinterlands Venue Limited  44048
MPS Realisations Limited (Formerly Madley Property Services Limited)  44046
No 1 Currency Limited  44046
Northern Safety Supplies Limited  44068
Parkview Battersea Limited  44055
Regal Holiday Homes Limited  44055
RMG PPM Realisations Limited  44060
RMG Realisations Limited  44060
Thomas Exchange Global Limited  44046
TokenHouse VB Limited  44048
Travelex Financing PLC  44054
Travelex Group Investments Limited  44054
Travelex Holdings Limited  44054
Travelex Limited  44054
Travelex UK Limited  44054
Willow Inns (UK) Limited  44054
Woody Inns Limited  44054
Wrexham Wire Limited  44054

Administrators Meetings Para 51
P.J. Brown (Construction) Limited  44043
Travelex Banknotes Limited  44068

Compulsory Liquidators Appointed s 136
Windrush Cottages Limited  44048

Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation Deemed in Consent Meetings
Air2Energy Limited  44046
A.F. Collison Bill Posting Services Limited  44043
Analysis and Modelling Limited  44043
Barry Construction Limited  44043
CM IT Consultancy Limited  44048
CR Catering Ltd  44048
Construction Training Academy Limited  44060
David Ashworth Butchers Limited  44046
Davies Building Solutions Limited  44061
Exhibitions Plus Limited  44067
Glosol Limited  44046
Great White Events Limited  44054
Gun Dog Ales Limited  44043
Kindlow Limited  44046
Live in the UK Limited  44046
Optical Forming Limited  44046
M&J (the Gables) Limited  44043
Mast Display Limited  44060
New Space Constructions Ltd  44060
NKS Property Maintenance Ltd  44054
Pendle Ventures Clitheroe Limited  44046
Southborough Construction Limited  44046
Tailormade Fitted Furniture Limited 44048
The Brook Coffee Company Limited  44060
Top Table Hire Limited  44060

Liquidators Appointed
3 Frank Monkeys Limited  44048
All About Electricals Limited  44048
ABH Installations Limited  44046
Alfa Joinery Limited  44042
Atlas Wynd Ltd  44048
A.F. Collison Bill Posting Services  44060
Analysis and Modelling Limited  44060
BB CAD Designs Limited  44048
Bishop’s Move (Tunbridge Wells) Limited  44068
Bishop’s Move Distribution Services Limited  44068
Broadway Business Hub Limited  44042
BW McGregor Engineering Limited  44046
Centurion Construction (London) Limited  44061
Clayton’s Cards Limited  44042
Classic Home Improvements (Warrington) Limited  44046
Coffeesmiths (North) Limited  44042
Colour Cubed Limited  44067
Connect Drivers Limited  44042
Construction DDC Limited  44046
Commercial Solar Installer Limited  44060
Corinthian Masonry Limited  44046
Cove Construction (SW) Limited  44054
CPUK Commercial Limited  44054
Cue Design Limited  44048
Coffeesmiths (Independents) Limited  44043
DDM Fab Limited  44043
Deluxe Mobile Homes Limited  44043
De Build Limited  44054
Doublequick Limited  44048
DV Foods Limited  44054
David Ashworth Butchers Limited  44060
Denim T9 Limited  44060
Ela Trading Limited  44060
Euro-Connex Limited  44048
Ekult Group Limited  44046
Fashion Nation (UK) Limited  44068
Galtee Interiors Limited  44067
Gambaru Fitness Limited  44043
Gateway Logistic Services Limited  44060
G & B Logitstics Limited  44067
Grace Pippa Limited  44060
Gun Dog Ales Limited  44060
Island Trading Company limited (The)  44043
K & S Packing Limited  44048
Land Shuttle Limited  44054
Laser Metal Fabrication Limited  44048
Lewis Visuals Limited  44046
Ludgate Building And Construction Limited  44062
MAP Electrical Limited  44046
Market Hall Logistics Limited  44068
M.E.A. Publications Limited  44060
Nicholl Food Packaging Limited  44060
Network Coffee Limited  44054
Nirvana Hairdressing Company Limited  44046
N.T. Whitfield (Transport) Limited  44048
NQ Retail London Limited  44042
One Performance UK Limited  44043
Pear Communications Limited  44042
Paton’s (Shifnal) Limited T/A Patons of Shifnal  44048
Patshull Park UK Limited  44046
PHA (Northampton) Limited  44046
Pendle Ventures Clitheroe Ltd  44060
Pendle Ventures Grills Limited  44060
Porky’s Bakehouse Ltd  44060
Prestige Diamonds Limited  44060
Providence Print & Mailing Limited  44060
Quest MH Limited  44054
Riva Retail Limited  44046
RSJ Safety Limited  44048
Rochay Productions Limited  44043
Salop Motorsport Limited  44060
Secure Surroundings Limited  44048
Sky High Building Contractors Limited  44042
Streamline Nationwide Limited  44048
The Preservation Company (UK) Limited  44048
The Cog Research & Marketing Limited  44042
The Red Group Print & Design Limited  44067
UK Theatres Online Limited  44043
VRA Transport Limited  44043
Wholepress Limited  44048
Wonderland Soft Play Limited  44054
Woodlane Building Contractors Limited  44054

Members Voluntary Liquidations
Alan Chandler Marketing Limited  44055
Aim Digital Solutions Limited  44060
APB Construction UK Limited  44060
Blue Octal Limited  44048
BG Iran Limited  44054
BG IT Solutions Limited  44061
BG Karachaganak Trading Limited  44054
Brazil Shipping II Limited  44054
Connectors Cables Specialists (CCS UK) Limited  44054
C. Pike Limited  44048
Carlton Consulting Limited  44046
Comptel Communications Limited  44067
Controstar Media Limited  44061
Creative Broadcast Services Holdings (2) Limited  44043
Creative Broadcast Services Limited  44043
Clear Vista Media Limited  44043
Cloudspot Limited  44042
Deepx Limited  44048
DMU IT Consulting Limited  44055
EPDS Consultants Limited  44048
Grid Solutions Power Electronic Systems Limited  44043
H5 Enterprises Ltd  44046
Heathfield Reels Limited  44048
HO Media Solutions Limited  44055
Kevin Masters Creative Limited  44042
Lansdowne Freight Limited  44046
Lincolnshire Media Limited  44068
MG Office Lets Limited  44046
Macdonald’s (West Derby) Garage Limited  44046
Mchr Consulting Limited  44046
Monberg & Thorsen (UK) Limited  44048
Nathaniel Lloyd & Co. Limited  44048
Peter Page & Associates Limited  44046
Pharmchem International Limited  44046
Partner For Growth Limited  44048
Peter Taylor Consulting (Hertfordshire) Limited  44048
Price Waterhouse MCS UK Holding Company  44055
PricewaterhouseCoopers (Resources) Limited  44055
PwC Performance Solutions (No.2) Limited  44055
PwC Performance Solutions (No.3) Limited  44055
Progressive Quilting Co. Limited  44048
Putney Beach Limited  44046
S&V Limited  44046
Shell Thailand Manufacturing Limited  44054
Smartspike Solutions Ltd  44046
Sonoco Europe Limited  44048
Striking Lion Design Limited  44067
TPT Board Mills Limited  44048
Unit Reels and Drums Limited  44048
Web Planning Limited  44042
Wildsmith Communications Limited  44060
Yateley Country Park Limited  44046

Petitions to Wind Up
Amik Property International Ltd  44043
County Farm Asssit Limited  44048
Pro-Fit Building Services Limited  44043
MHD Builders Limited  44060
Sage Media National Limited  44067
Wadsworth Care Homes Limited  44043

Winding up orders
Absolute Construction (Norfolk) Limited  44068
Belgravia Construction (London) Limited  44042
TMAK Construction Limited  44060
Trust Media Limited  44048

ICSM CREDIT

For information on ICSM visit www.icsmcredit.com or call 0844 854 1850.
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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As retailers Anne Summers and Moss Bros join the growing movement seeking CVAs there’s a new turn-off for the High Street: unclear social distancing signs

Companies in trouble are seeing the CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement) as the the go-to saviour from insolvency in these troubled times. Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “The reasons are simple – by getting agreement from 75% of a firm’s creditors it is possible to delay the repayment of debts by restructuring them. If the creditors agree, limited company can continue trading. And the reality is with so many firms in trouble their creditors have little choice but to agree. The catch is that a CVA may give a firm some breathing space but it they don’t change their business model then liquidation will happen eventually and creditors will lose out. My message is be very careful not to grant more credit to firms seeking a CVA.”

Off putting no-show signage

Writing in the signage industry’s leading trade magazine Sign Link, Rob Fletcher has highlighted a phenomenon that would have been unheard of a year ago.

He said: “More than 40% of UK shoppers have stopped visiting stores that have unclear signage on novel coronavirus (Covid-19) social distancing, according to a new study by Roland DG.”

Roland DG make wide format printers that are used to print textiles, synthetic fabrics and other large signs.

The journalist said the European survey of over 2,500 people found 80% of consumers feel safer in stores that have clear social distancing signage – such as printed floor stickers – with 78% more likely to shop in stress with proper instructions on social distancing measures.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said that shopping had been made an unpleasant chore since the Covid-19 crisis and although many retailers had tried their best to improve things simple innovations like signs make a big difference.

He said: “A long queue outside a shop is a turn off but confusion over which way you can go once inside doesn’t help. Shops with clear signage will do better as this survey shows.”

Rob Fletcher said: “Some 40% of shoppers say that businesses are not taking their safety seriously enough, with 75% of consumers saying they are more aware of in-store signage than before the Covid-19 pandemic. Other key findings include that clothes shops in the UK were most likely to not have the correct social distancing signage in place, with 21% of respondents setting out their fears. Supermarkets were also a cause for concern as 19% of shoppers say the right signage is not in place, while 16% were also apprehensive about restaurants and bars.”

Speaking of restaurants Business Sale have reported that the Burrito chain Chilango has been acquired out of administration by investment group RD Capital Partners. The acquisition by RD Capital Partners, for an undisclosed sum, followed a competitive sales process and will see 10 of the chain’s 11 restaurants remain open.

Lingerie retailer’s CVA plans

The Retail Gazette has reported that the lingerie and sex toy retailer Ann Summers is considering a CVA in order to save it from collapse following the shut-down. The reporter Sahar Nazir noted that the retailer’s chief executive Jacqueline Gold said the company might opt for a CVA as some landlords refused to work in partnership, despite the owning family injecting cash to keep the business afloat.

The journalist said: “Losses increased £3 million to £16 million in its most recently reported year, and Gold expects business rates and property costs to increase next year. Ann Summers is currently dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic despite the improvement of personnel, IT investment and product. Gold said some of the retailer’s landlords have taken a “pragmatic” approach, while others have not and Ann Summers is understood to be preparing to unveil CVA proposals in the next week. She added that landlords have continued to ‘bury their heads in the sand’ and the only way a retailer is able to resolve the situation is to undertake a CVA.”

Moss Bros in trouble

It may only be the first of September but the CVAs keep coming. This time it is that key figure in the menswear wedding high world: Moss Bros. Fashion United’s Huw Hughes writes: “The brand has called in advisory firm KPMG to work on a potential CVA which could lead to store closures and rent cuts, The Times reports. It comes after talks between the brand and its landlords failed to reach an agreement to turn some of its store estate over to turnaround-based rent.

“Moss Bros currently has 125 UK stores and around 1,000 employees. It comes as the formalwear category continues to be significantly impacted by Covid-19, with the cancellation of large events such as weddings and the Royal Ascot dealing significant blows to sales.

“In March, prior to the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, Crew Clothing-owner Brigadier Acquisition Company Limited agreed to acquire Moss Bros in a 22.6 million pound deal. However, just weeks after the deal was announced, Brigadier seeked a ruling from the Takeover Panel to cancel its offer. Moss Bros successfully opposed the decision, citing a rule in the Takeover Code that states an offer cannot be lapsed or withdrawn.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Pic: FT

Creditors beware: newspaper industry in freefall during Covid-19 as sales plunge 39% as publisher Archant seeks to dump their pension fund and leave shareholders with nothing

The Guardian has reported that The Financial Times and the i newspaper saw declines in circulation of 39% and 38%, respectively. They said: “The decline of circulation of the i was exacerbated by the cessation of the distribution of bulks, free copies, to locations including airports, gyms and railway stations.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said Covid-19 have brought forward the demise of several industries and speeded up social changes due to the lock-down. “Newspapers and magazines have seen a steady declines for years due to two factors,” he said. “The flight of advertising to the internet and the rise in the use of mobile phones, tablets and laptops to read long form articles and news stories. Now with Covid-19 it’s worse as it’s difficult to pop to the local shop without having to queue and put on a mask.”

He cautioned suppliers of paper, ink, computer technology and printing presses to the industry after Archant became the latest publisher to get into financial trouble. In 2018 one of the UK’s biggest newspaper publishers Johnston Press went into administration and was bought in a pre-pack by JPI Media dumping large amounts of debt. Daily and weekly titles like the The Oldham Evening Chronicle published by collapsed Hirst, Kidd and Rennie publishers which closed in 2017, while since then more 100 newspaper titles have gone.

Archant clings to CVA hope

The newspaper industry’s trade publication Press Gazette has reported that the UK’s fourth biggest local newspaper publisher Archant has been bought out by a private equity firm in a deal which leaves shareholders with nothing. However the proposed CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) has to be agreed negotiated with the help of KPMG has to be agreed with creditors who look set to get little or nothing.

Under the deal reported the Press Gazette Rcapital Partners will take a 90% stake in the company, which publishes the The New European and the Eastern Daily Press as well as a number of local weekly news titles and monthly magazines.

Pension scheme issue

The Press Gazette reported: “The company’s pension scheme, which is believed to have deficit of around £50m, will be taken over by the government’s Pension Protection Fund. The pension fund shortfall had been costing the company £3m a year. The deal is an alternative to liquidating the company, which means creditors will get more of their money back and the new owners may have more room to invest.”

Chief executive Simon Bax broke the news to staff in an email in which he said, “the impact of the downturn on our advertising and circulation revenues due to Covid-19 has been profound”. He said the new owners would invest in the business and provide a “sustainable financial platform upon which the company can continue its transformation”.

Carrotte: ‘it’s wishful thinking’

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said that was all wishful thinking as the business model for many local newspapers was broken and he foresaw more financial problems for the print based titles such as the Norwich Evening News. As a result of the deal, two of Archant’s holding companies – Archant Ltd and Archant Community Media Holdings Limited – will be placed into administration. Archant Community Media Limited, under which it employs its staff, will continue to trade. Shareholders in Archant Ltd will lose out, however, including employees who held shares in the company.

Archant was founded in 1845 in Norwich, where it is still headquartered, as the Norfolk News. The Colman family, who produce the region’s famous mustard, are among its shareholders, with Jeremiah Colman having been one of its founders. The group’s private pension fund will retain the final 10% stake in the business. Archant needs to secure at least 75% creditor approval by value for the CVA for it to proceed. Talks are already underway with key creditors through KPMG.

The Press Gazzete said Archant made a pre-tax loss of £7.6m in 2018 on group revenue of £87.3m, which was down 9.6% on the year before. The group still relies on print for 78% of its total revenues, although advertising, which makes made up the bulk of its income, fell by 10.8% to £64.2m and newspaper circulation fell by 6.6% to £16.4m in 2018.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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How times change: Debenhams could hire fashion models Eva Herzigova, Yasmin Le Bon and Helena Christensen to front their sales in recent years. Now they are struggling to survive

Debenhams’ parent firm enters administration as uncertainty continues; STA Travel collapses; sushi chain’s CVA, and a shopping centre goes bust

The demise of the once mighty department store chain Debenhams took another agonising turn for the worse as their parent company has entered administration. The Times reported that owners Celine Group Holdings have hired Philip Watkins and Philip Armstrong from FRP Advisory as advisers. And perhaps more to the point the move means the firm does not have to pay overdue interest payments on £200 million of bonds due July 15.

Light touch administration

The 242-year-old firm has closed 16 of its 140 stores is currently under a so-called ‘light touch’ administration with managers still in control. ICSM Credit reported this month how the department store had called in advisers to prepare for a sale, restructure or liquidation.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said a company like Debenhams will have a huge number of creditors considering the scope of their operation. “The warning signs are there for suppliers,” he said, “it would be a mistake to grant credit to a company that is openly admitting it may go bust.”

Coronavirus forces STA Travel out of business

Business Sale Report said: “STA Travel has become the latest travel firm to fall victim to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company, which grew out of a student travel business and specialised in trips for young people, including gap years and volunteer projects, has ceased trading.”

STA Travel has more than 50 shops in the UK with around 500 workers whose jobs are now at risk.

The firm’s parent company, based in Switzerland, said the pandemic had ‘brought the travel industry to a standstill’ said Business Sale Report.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said: “STA Travel will be a name that is familiar to most people who will have used them to travel or been aware of their name on the High Street, and this distressing news will sadly affect the livelihoods of hundreds of employees.”

Shopping centre goes bust

Retail Research have reported that the Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Chester went into receivership along with its car park earlier in July 2020. It was originally built in the 1960s and refurbished in the 80s. There are 101 retail units, all on one level. The shopping centre continues trading. 

Wasabi seeks CVA

Company Rescue have reported that the grab-and-go sushi and bento chain, Wasabi, is the latest casual dining chain to launch a Company Voluntary Arrangement among the coronavirus pandemic.

They reported: “A CVA has been launched to drive the chain through a difficult period and to safeguard its future. Wasabi has 51 sites across the UK – 41 of which are in the capital. The slow return of office workers, low levels of tourism and the social distancing measures in place mean the future for the chain looks uncertain. If the proposal gets approved by creditors, the group expects to leave a small number of leases and negotiate rent with landlords on some of its sites. Job losses are to be kept to a minimum. Will Wright and David Costley-Wood of KPMG, are the proposed nominees of the CVA.”

Henry Birts, CEO, said: “Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Wasabi had been performing strongly on the back of the investment and operational improvements we had made during 2019. However, the extraordinary impact of COVID-19 on trading has meant that we now need to take additional steps to address our fixed cost-base if we are to secure the long-term future of our business. In recent weeks, we have had constructive engagement with landlords regarding better alignment of the rents of certain sites in proportion with footfall and trading, and we will continue to work closely with them over the days ahead. We strongly believe that this turnaround programme will provide us with a stable platform upon which we can emerge from this difficult period as a healthy and sustainable business, for our staff, suppliers and loyal customers.’’

Wasabi was founded in 2003. It has 1,500 staff across its 51 UK restaurants. It also runs two sites under the Kimchee brand and five restaurants in America – these not to be affected by the CVA.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Rookery Bridal have moved to the Stables Business Park

There’s a touch of glamour at The Stables Business Park at Rooksbridge in Somerset with the arrival this month of Rookery Bridal’s new offices at The Mill House on the park.

Sarah Hackett, the owner of Rookery Bridal, has many years of experience in the wedding industry explained why she had moved from Rookery Manor Hotel to the park.

“I wanted the business to be independent: I purchased Rookery Bridal last year from Rookery Manor Hotel and I wanted it to be physically independent as well,” she said, “The Stables Business Park provides us with a much more accessible location, extra space and storage.”

Sarah Hackett, the owner of Rookery Bridal

Despite the problems of the Covid-19 crisis, business at the park has remained strong with most firms back to normal. Tom and Sally Dalley who own and run the park said they were pleased that Rookery Bridal had relocated their offices to Rooksbridge as they were a local company with a local name and added to the diverse range of businesses that operate from the address.

Sarah said the new unit benefited from extra space for storage. She said: “We have over 70 wedding gowns and we also have an extensive selection of veils, belts, tiaras, shoes, hair vines – space is very important to us as brides need to feel comfortable when they are choosing their gown and accessories.”

Lin Ogden, Boutique Sales Manager

The business is in The Mill House on the park and is primarily offices and storage but brides-to-be can make an appointment to visit. Lin Ogden, Boutique Sales Manager, (who has also been in the bridal business for 20 years) said they love the process of the bride choosing a dress and accessories. Lin said: “Visitors can park outside and choose from so many styles. There’s no hard sell or pressure, just a chance to indulge in an Aladdin’s cave of bridal beauty.”

The Stables Business Park is two miles from Junction of the M5. Take the A38 heading north towards Bristol Airport and you will find it on the right just after the bridge over the motorway.

There is a short video about the move to the park by Rookery Bridal at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuXijrFE76Y

Rookery Bridal is located in The Mill House, at The Stables Business Park, Rooksbridge, Somerset, UK, BS26 2TT. Telephone 01934 751111. Web: https://rookerybridal.co.uk/

For details call The Stables Business Park on 07968 910 761, or email us from our website at www.stablesbusinesspark.com where you will find much more information, testimonials and news.

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First it was Brexit, then Covid-19 and the lock down – now warns ICSM Credit it’s the banning of Huawei that next threatens the creditors of a raft of businesses

When the culture secretary Oliver Dowden MP announced the Government’s decision to strip the Chinese firm Huawei this week of its role in 5G he may unwittingly have begun an economic revolution.

Communist state

“Any firms in hock to Huawei may find suppliers reluctant to grant more credit as the value of that UK business collapses following the Government’s U-turn on allowing them access,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit. “Furthermore I can detect an appetite amongst those in Government to now look at other Chinese mega investments such as Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset, Sizewell B power station, South West Trains and even the North Sea Oil industry. All have massive percentages of Chinese money in them and many MPs are concerned we’ve allowed a totalitarian Communist state to have a big stake in our infrastructure.”

He said he would not enter into the rights and wrongs of allowing the investment triggered by more than a decade of Sino-Anglo trade but if there is now a pull out of cash it would be SMEs and small businesses that would suffer. Although the slack would be picked up by non-Chinese firms in the long run he said.

Jobs and £7bn hit

Apart from around 1,500 jobs in the UK directly affected by a Huawei pull out the hit to the economy could be just under £7bn according to joint research within the industry while Dowden said the mobile phone industry itself would take a £2bn hit. ICSM Credit understands BT and Vodaphone who have been working with Huawei to install 5G will not be paid compensation.

Glee and Tik Tok

The potential for a further roll back of Chinese investments are clear with a 33.4% stake in Hinkley Point, a 20% share in Sizewell B, 30% share in SW Trains and Crossrail, 10% in Heathrow Airport, 9% in Thames Water, 25% in North Sea Oil production and major investments in Geely and Lotus – as well as the purchase of British Steel for £50m by the Chinese firm Jingye last year. And finally, there is Tik Tok – linked to the TV show Glee by Kesha’s popular song – the social media app beloved by millions and already banned in India.

The decision to drop Huawei by the Government is due to a variety of reasons reversing their earlier policy of allowing some infrastructure to take place in partnership with the likes of BT. America is strongly opposed to Huawei believing it is wrong to allow a Communist state to have a big stake in infrastructure in a democracy, then there is the USA’s trade war, anger over how China failed to alert the world quickly enough over the spread of Covis-19 and finally the way their Government has erased freedom of speech and protest in Hong Kong betraying the agreement with the UK Government.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Pic: Morpeth Herald

News Bites: masks in shops ‘impossible to enforce’; no-show customers slammed; mass redundancies as print industry wobbles; china shops collapse; builder owed £11m; and directors get breathing space from creditors

As one of the nation’s leading credit intelligence circles ICSM Credit likes to bring you the latest news, views and analysis in the world of creditors, bad debts and companies in trouble. There’s only one motivation behind our news and that is to save our members from being caught out when one of their clients goes bust.

Muddle over masks

Ian Carrotte said: “There has been much muddle and confusion for industry as business emerges from shut-down. A v-shaped recovery looks unlikely as so many jobs are going and a lot of firms are going bust. The face-mask and PPE industries are seeing a boom so there’s a small silver lining there – but what we need is business and social life to return to normal in August or it will be a tough old recession this winter.”

Masks must be worn by adults in shops from July 24 according to the latest Government announcement with £100 fines for non-wearers. The news has not gone down well with the retailers and police as Michael Gove MP implied mask wearing would be voluntary when questioned by the BBC on Sunday. Chief executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said the plan left more questions as she felt it should not be up to shop workers to enforce reluctant shoppers to cover up. The police are also unhappy. Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation said it would be impossible to patrol every shop and enforce the new law.

Ian Carrotte said he feared this was a backward step as the death rate from Covid 19 was getting lower, and the idea masks must be worn in shops but not in pubs was ‘difficult to equate.’ He added masks made sense in March but with August days away questions will be asked about ‘the delay in implementation.’

No-show customers

ICSM Credit took interest in the celebrity chef Tom Kerridge story this week when the restauranteur complained publicly of no-show customers. Namely people who booked a table and then failed to show up – despite the overwhelming demand following the lifting of restrictions post Covid-19. He said that 27 people booked and failed to turn up at his restaurant at the Corinthia Hotel in London making the evening a disaster financially – just when the place needed to start making a profit. Kerridge’s experience is not alone as many restaurants have had the same problem with people sending an email booking and then changing their mind. Perhaps the only answer is to make a booking only valid with a deposit.

Ian Carrotte said the problem was not unique to the dining out industry as printers, couriers, builders, hoteliers and a host of other businesses are frequently contacted with so-called definite orders and bookings – which then fail to turn up. He said: “It’s down to people not thinking and being selfish. Sales people will often come away from a meeting having thought they have a big order only to find it cancelled a day later when the potential customer has used their specifications to source it cheaper elsewhere.”

New world order for print industry

Jo Francis in Print Week has written a timely piece on the new world order for the print industry which seems to be all about redundancies or calling it a day and shutting up shop. She writes about Dundee-based Tradeprint who are cutting 30% of its 164-strong and Portsmouth’s Bishops Printers who are also making the same number of staff redundant. Francis quotes Bishops Printers CEO Gareth Roberts as saying: “Our ‘event driven print’ has naturally been severely depressed and although we are starting to see recovery – with volumes rising towards 50% of norm in July – we do not see a ‘V shaped’ return to normal trading. It was therefore evident in early May that we would need to restructure throughout all parts of the business to remain viable.  Sadly, this has meant approaching 30% of our 270 strong workforce being made redundant since we simply don’t believe we can carry the additional staff without the work we normally expect for the remainder of the calendar year.”

Summer cover for directors

Website Business Sale reports on the plight of directors of insolvent firms who have been given a bit of breathing space this summer. Under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act that came in last month the temporary protection from wrongful trading given to firms was extended to the end of September from the end of June. They reported: Although the threat of personal liability has been significantly reduced, company directors must remain attentive to other considerations relating to the continued trading of their businesses as they are still bound by directors’ duties as set out in company law.”

It means that firms that were technically insolvent during the Covid-19 shut down can continue to trade during the summer without fear of the directors being personally liable for any debts. Normally it is illegal to trade while insolvent but the idea is firms will spring back into life and quickly make up the lost ground in August.

Construction firm owed £11m

The Business Sale website reports on the Lancashire-based contractor Construction Partnership UK who owed close to £11 million to creditors when it collapsed in April, according to a new report from administrators Duff & Phelps. The website reported: “The company’s administration was blamed on the impact of coronavirus and “contractual issues” following the loss of several contracts.This included The Rise, a £23.4 million mixed-use development in Liverpool, that led to £3 million in bad debt. The contract was due to be the firm’s biggest ever job but work stopped last year when developer Primesite Development ran into funding issues. When work halted, Construction Partnership UK had completed work worth £7 million.”

The administrators Duff & Phelps said the firm was hit by ‘a combination of late and missed payments, overrun on projects and increasing materials costs.’ They reported that the 94 staff were made redundant after being furloughed in March and former employees were unlikely to be paid.

China shops collapse

The Yorkshire Post has reported on the demise of the giftware and china retailer Peter Jones of Wakefield whose ten shops have closed. Despite furloughing staff the 70 employees will be made redundant and the 50 year old business liquidated.

The newspaper said: “It enters insolvency after a period of weak trading followed by significant cash flow pressure related to the COVID-19 lockdown. The retailer, which has stores in Barnsley, Doncaster, Batley, Huddersfield, Castleford, Pontefract, Wakefield and Wetherby, has been closed for business since lockdown with its 70 employees on furlough.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said a pattern was emerging of firms locking down and furloughing their staff while the directors ‘get their ducks in a row’ and take the firm into administration with a view to sale or liquidation. He said: “We’re seeing a lot of this activity and it is something we predicted before the lockdown. A lot of zombie companies who were barely solvent and struggling before Covid-19 have faced the reality and are pulling the plug. That is why all suppliers must be careful of accepting orders from firms in that situation as they probably won’t get paid.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST Business News COMMENT: time for ‘dithering’ Lord Callanan to pull his finger out and sort out the scandal of the big four’s role in playing referee and footballer in a game where SMEs and the public lose out

I don’t always agree with the outspoken Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail but on the scandal of the big four accountancy firms auditing companies while at the same time recommending remunerations for the directors – he is bang on.

In his ‘litany of failures and scandals it’s time for auditors to face a reckoning’ piece he rightly points the finger at not just PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG but also at the dithering Lord Callanan. The unelected member of the House of Lords Martin John Callanan, Baron Callanan is the  Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and has the power to implement one of the reports on the big four accountants.

Failures over Conviviality

The reason why he needs to act is because there have been a series of complete failures by the big four accountants in auditing the accounts of firms such as Conviviality, Patisserie Valerie and Thomas Cook exposing the conflict between auditing and work such as processing bonus payments to failed directors.

Installed on St Valentine’s day this year as the man with the powers to reform the activities of PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG Callanan has so far shown no appetite to take on the powerful vested interests who have by their actions thrown thousands out of work and brought destruction to many SMEs. Six years ago John Kingman’s report said the Financial Reporting Council should be replaced by a tougher body with stronger powers to take PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG to task. He proposed the obviously sensible plan to separate the audit and consulting arms at the big four auditors. And more recently Donald Brydon’s review recommended the same thing. Essentially the referee could no longer be the footballer as well, waving away penalty claims or requests for a free kick.

BooHoo and Wisecard

But since then despite the ongoing issues over BooHoo, Wirecard and umpteen other questionable actions of accountants and their clients nothing has happened.

Brummer noted: “It is hard to bring discipline to boardroom pay when the same firm that does the audit is also charged with setting remuneration. In a statement of the obvious, the minister notes that the three audit reviews are ‘interlinked’ reforms being developed and that not all require legislation.  Amid excuses about pressure of parliamentary business, no timetable is given. The flaccid approach smacks of heavy lobbying by powerful accounting firms.”

Carillion cost billions

If only the dithering Lord Callanan listened to the voices of small and medium businesses, the chambers of commerce and the self-employed lobbyists instead of the big four we might have a reform of the system that’s cost the nation billions of pounds. Many firms have gone to the wall over the likes of Carillion collapsing, the public have lost out big time when companies like Thomas Cook go under and the tax payer has to pick up the tab for redundancies. It really is time for action.

Harry Mottram

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Pic: CA Finance

As Firstgroup announces it might not survive much longer ICSM Credit lists the excuses given to suppliers as to why they haven’t been paid yet (which ones have you heard?)

This week it was reported that AirAsia may not survive the Covid-19 crisis and even Firstgroup admitted after three years of heavy losses it could go under. Most observers believe Firstgroup and possibly AirAsia could be bailed out or nationalised by their Governments but since Flybe was allowed to crash nothing is guaranteed – including their beleaguered suppliers getting paid.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said too many suppliers of big firms allowed themselves to be sucked into a cycle of supply and late payment with overdue accounts rising month by month.

“The classic case is where accounts departments chase up a string of invoices,” he said, “but strangely only a small number of the invoices are paid while queries are raised on usually the larger amounts. It’s a delaying tactic by the client who is experiencing cash flow problems and uses all the old tricks to delay or not to pay on time.”

ICSM Credit’s members are aware of a string of delaying tactics used over the years but Ian Carrotte said in the present climate the excuses not to pay have increased as companies struggle.

They include:

  • “The cheque is in the post.” Nobody pays by cheque anymore but incredibly this is an excuse still given. The variation is we posted it ages ago so it must be ‘lost in the post.’
  • “The director who signs off payments is on holiday.” Even old school directors have mobile phones on which they can see their emails and messages while sunning themselves in Spain. Don’t buy it.
  • “We haven’t received your invoice.” This one is usually given long after the payment date has passed prompting the time consuming process of starting the process all over again.
  • “The person who authorised the work has left the company and we have no record of the job.” Handy get of jail free card but it doesn’t wash – you have all the documentation.
  • “We can’t pay without a purchase order.” This excuse irritatingly comes well after the payment date has passed and hasn’t been mentioned before.
  • “We’ve already paid that invoice.” You have to come up with the paper work to show they haven’t paid – at which point they ask for a duplicate invoice so they can ‘process it.’
  • “The amount is wrong.” As always this is given as an excuse long past the due date and after much toing and froing they agree the amount is correct – having bought extra time.
  • “That was the old company that went bust.” Strangely apart from a name change the ‘new’ company is in the same premises with the same people doing the same work.
  • “There’s nobody in accounts.” Your chasing up phone call is answered by someone in accounts but apparently there is nobody there.

Best practice to avoid hearing these excuses too often:

  • Invoice for work promptly and include all details of the work with a breakdown of costs.
  • Ensure you have either an email confirming the order, a purchase order and number, or other written documents requesting the work.
  • Before working for a new customer make sure they have a copy of your terms and conditions and have preferably signed them off.
  • If your payment terms are 30 days then on day 29 phone up and remind them that payment is required tomorrow and make a written note of what the customer says.
  • Stay polite and diplomatic at all times and if possible build a friendly relationship with the person who actually pays the invoice.
  • Never rant and rave at your customer’s accounts department as they may be under pressure from management to slow payments down and it will not help your cause.
  • Review all your customers regularly to see how much time is spent chasing money. Terminate those customers who are timewasters.
  • Join ICSM Credit to find out who is not paying their invoices, who may be in danger of insolvency and to use the group’s free legal letters.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit harrymottram.co.uk

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Axbridge Chamber of Commerce member The Lamb Inn is set to reopen at the beginning of August

The chair of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce Louise Jane Cooling said the news the Lamb was to reopen soon was ‘fantastic news.’

She said the town’s hospitality sector was coming back to life and asked residents to support businesses who have had a tough time during the Covid-19 shut down.

Join the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce for £10 a year and add to the town’s social and business life. Visit http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/axbridge/axbridge-chamber-of-commerce/ and follow the Chamber of Twitter and FaceBook.

Shock at £19bn black hole that could see 13 universities liquidated with suppliers left with billions of pounds of unpaid invoices

Printers, couriers, office suppliers, stationers, publishers and a host of businesses could be left high and dry if 13 universities go to the wall due to Covid-19 according to a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).

arah Harris writing in the Daily Mail said: “The IFS has estimated that long-run losses across the UK higher education sector could come in anywhere between £3 billion and £19 billion – or between 7.5% and nearly half of the sector’s overall income in one year. Even the most likely situation would see losses of £11billion.”

If the collapse happens then some 130,000 students would discover they would have no choice but to seek a different educational institute this September. Suppliers too would find themselves in a fix with billions of pounds owing to them, the lenders, students and staff, let alone the knock on effect to the local economies. In the last five years more universities have opened including St Mary’s Twickenham, Arden, Suffolk and Leeds Arts amongst others although there is no suggestion these are under threat from the UK’s 130 institutions. However the report, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, notes: “While there is no precedent for the liquidation of a publicly funded university in the UK, it is explicit Government policy that universities can fail.”

The report says institutions face ‘big losses’ from falls in enrolment, particularly of international students. And they are also set to lose income from student accommodation and conference and catering operations, as well as take a hit on long-term investments and increases in the deficits of university-sponsored pension schemes. 

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “We have seen individual colleges go into administration in the past but this would be a shocking collapse as universities are often the main economic driver of smaller cities and large towns. My concern is for suppliers as universities are huge consumers of paper and print, all manner of modern communication infrastructure as well as freelance lecturers. The IFS report reveals the continued effect of the lock down and the Government must step in or this could be a disaster. The IFS estimated the rescue the 13 universities would cost an estimated £45bn.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST Business News: the eye-wateringly high costs of a return to work after lockdown for UK businesses

This is a press release from Where The Trade Buys

After the most recent loosening of lockdown measures, many pubs, bars, and restaurants are due to open their doors to the public again from this weekend. The likelihood is that not long after this, most offices will begin to reopen as well, and the 8.4 million people who were furloughed and the many working from home will return to their workplace, ready to make up for lost time.  

Workplaces are set to undergo a complete transformation, adjusting to the legal requirements of social distancing and the ethical requirements of supplying employees with the necessary PPE to feel safe in the workplace. 

Getting Back into Business: The Comeback Costs After Lockdown

The UK is getting back into business. Gradually, sector by sector, we are beginning to embrace the ‘new normal’, and businesses are once again raring to go. After the most recent loosening of lockdown measures, many pubs, bars, and restaurants are due to open their doors to the public again from this weekend. The likelihood is that not long after this, most offices will begin to reopen as well, and the 8.4 million people who were furloughed and the many working from home will return to their workplace, ready to make up for lost time.  

However, it won’t be quite as simple as wandering back to your old desk, greeting your colleagues, and getting back to normal as if nothing has changed. Workplaces are set to undergo a complete transformation, adjusting to the legal requirements of social distancing and the ethical requirements of supplying employees with the necessary PPE to feel safe in the workplace. The new workplace will involve many essential measures, but from squirts of sanitiser to mandatory face masks, how much is this all going to cost? Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of PPE costs and find out how much the UK is going to have to fork out for the safety and wellbeing of its workers in the following months. 

2 pumps of hand sanitiser per hour for every worker — £3,058,560

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, hand sanitiser has become an essential item, and many wouldn’t leave their home, let alone re-enter the workplace, without one in their bag. Health and Safety England have set out guidelines for the use of hand sanitiser including tips on how to identify a suitable product for your workplace, but how much is this product really going to set us back?

For every single full-time employee to get two pumps of hand sanitiser for every hour they are at work, the overall cost for one day back in the office will amount to £3,058,560! And it looks like this measure will certainly be needed for the foreseeable future.

2 face masks for each worker — £72,000,000

Next up, we have face masks. Face masks are absolutely essential for frontline workers and they are now also a legal requirement for anyone travelling on public transport in most parts of the UK. It will be at each business’s own discretion whether or not facemasks are essential in the workplace. But for service industry workers in particular, face masks are of great importance and could play a vital role in protecting staff.

In total, the UK would have to fork out £36,000,000 to ensure that each and every full-time worker has access to a face mask. For two masks each, which would be more appropriate, the cost would amount to a staggering £72,000,000.

Floor markings in all commercial spaces — £1,234,309,789

Social distancing is set to remain in place as we return to our places of work, with two metres being the original rule, and one metre distancing coming into play when necessary (‘1m-plus’). However, when there is a large number of employees or customers in one space, temporary floor stickers are necessary to uphold the social distancing regulations.

In the UK today, there are 678,192,192.00 square metres of commercial space. So, to have social distance markings at every two metres, it will collectively cost £1,234,309,789 for businesses in the UK.

A deep clean of all commercial spaces in the UK — £2,373,672,672

As well as getting all the PPE in place as employees gradually re-enter the workplace across the country, businesses are going to have to dramatically step up their hygiene efforts. Naturally, this will call for regular deep cleans so that every surface is left sparkling.

For every business to conduct one thorough deep clean, therefore covering every inch of commercial square foot in the country, the overall cost will come to £2,373,672,672.

Training — Free!

Finally, we have the cost of training staff in essential health and safety procedures. Thankfully, the World Health Organization is offering online training courses completely free of charge. These courses include subjects such as Infection and Prevention Control, health and safety briefings for respiratory diseases, Operational Planning Guidelines, and more.  

Overall total — £3,683,041,021

So, for day one back in the office, the collective cost for the UK will be a staggering, £3,683,041,021. The costs may seem steep, but for the businesses that are beginning to reopen, health and safety must be the priority above all else. In relation to a safe return of the workforce, Gary Peeling, Chief Executive Officer at Where The Trade Buys, said: “With shared office spaces gradually reopening, businesses will require numerous health and safety products to ensure the safeguarding of their staff. Ahead of office doors reopening, careful planning will be needed in order to put the necessary protective equipment in place and enhance health and safety measures before employees return to the workplace.”

Gary Peeling, CEO at UK commercial print company: Where The Trade Buys, currently producing PPE for UK workplaces, hospitality venues, retail stores, education spaces, charity shops, the NHS and more. The company has also been involved in manufacturing face visors for NHS essential workers in the fight against Covid-19.

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Pic: Wikipedia

Is this the first of many? Football club calls in the administrators as ‘suspension of the Championship season due to Covid-19 has had a significant impact ‘

The BBC have broken the news that Wigan Athletic have gone into administration, becoming the first English professional club to do so since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The BBC wrote: “Wigan have been struggling to manage their finances and say there was no alternative if they were to safeguard the club. The move may see the Championship side deducted points.”

Paul Stanley, Gerald Krasner and Dean Watson of Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators.

Stanley said: “We understand that everybody connected with the club and the wider football world is seeking clarity on the future of Wigan Athletic. That’s exactly what we are seeking to provide as we move through this process and we seek out interested parties to rescue this famous old club here in the region. It is a fast-moving situation and we will provide updates on key developments.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “Although there is great concern for the supporters of the club and in particular those employed at Wigan Athletic FC there is a major concern that local suppliers will not be paid. The club has had an ongoing issue with debt clocking up a £9.2m loss last year. That level of debt has to be serviced and without football and ticket money coming in it is likely a cashflow crisis developed. Is this the first of many clubs to go bust? Yes. In the past Newport County, Bristol City and famously Accrington Stanley have all hit the buffers – but these are very different times and one’s heart goes out to the businesses that rely on trade with the club.”

Krasner, former chairman of Leeds United and now a partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Our immediate objectives are to ensure the club completes all its fixtures this season and to urgently find interested parties to save Wigan Athletic FC and the jobs of the people who work for the club. Obviously the suspension of the Championship season due to Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club. Wigan Athletic has been a focal point and source of pride for the town since 1932 and anyone who is interested in buying this historic sporting institution should contact the joint administrators directly.”

Founded in 1932, the club have played at the 25,000-seater DW stadium since 1999 when they were owened by Savid Whelan Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation in November 2018. In recent years the club were valued at £23.7m by Transfer Market with a squad of 33 prefessional players lying 14th in the Championship.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Louise Rednapp famously promoted furniture from Harveys Furniture for House Beautiful

They’re taking away the sofa: Harveys Furniture collapses plus news of a Scottish print management firm’s sudden end

Company Rescue has reported problems at Harveys Furniture. The firm said: “Harveys Furniture has gone into administration as it fails to find a buyer. 240 jobs have been immediately lost whilst 1,300 others are at risk.  Harveys’ sister chain, Bensons for Beds was also put into administration, though it was bought out in a pre-pack administration by its private equity owner, Alteri Investors. Administrators from PwC are looking for a buyer, which includes the purchase of its 20 stores and three manufacturing sites. For now, its stores continue to trade but those in the industry believe a buyer is unlikely to be found.”

Glasgow Sheriff Court for print firm

Trade publication Print Week has reported that Glasgow-based Print Squared, which traded as More Print Management, has had a provisional liquidator appointed by Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Writing on the publications website Jo Francis said: “Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden of KPMG have been appointed as joint provisional liquidators at the company. Print Squared director Kevin McGechie was also the majority shareholder in the business, which was established in 2004. The firm filed abbreviated accounts and its last filing, for the year to 31 March 2019, shows creditors of more than £2m and shareholders’ funds of £234,626. It had £164 in cash at hand at the balance sheet date. The Royal Bank of Scotland holds a charge over the firm’s property on Eagle Street.”

On its Facebook page the company states: “We have assembled a network of UK and international partners who have been vetted and audited and who understand the precision and quality that our clients have come to expect.”

The More website has been taken down for ‘maintenance’ said Jo Francis.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Seafolly have collapsed

ICSM Latest News: swimwear firm goes bust; retailer New Look gives landlords an ultimatum; and a survey says 25% of furloughed staff will be made redundant

A 70% splash

Australia’s largest swimwear brand Seafolly has gone into voluntary administration this week as it announced a massive 70% discount sale. Founded in 1979 the company’s products are available on line and in department stores and swimwear shops throughout the UK – and with shops down under and in the USA. Administrators Scott Langdon and Rahul Goyal from KordaMentha Restructuring have been appointed to find a solution blaming Covid-19 for the collapse. The brand is famed for its quality of manufacture and price with a traditional one piece swimsuit costing more than £100.

New Look’s ultimatum

The nationwide fashion retailer New Look has reportedly thrown down the gauntlet to its landlords issuing an ultimatum over its rent. Using the threat of negotiating a pre-pack while in administration in which rent arrears would be dumped the struggling store chain is hoping landlords will agree to turn-over related rent instead of the crippling fixed levels.

Like many retailers footfall was down before Covid-19 but since the lockdown trade has collapsed. Retail Week reported this week: “The fashion retailer has hired consultancy CBRE in an effort to move its 500-strong store estate across to turnover-based rents, which increases the possibility of its falling into a pre-pack administration should those discussions not be successful. Should New Look launch a pre-pack administration, it would be its second financial restructuring in less than two years, following a debt-for-equity swap with stakeholders in January 2019.”

Construction company collapses

The building firm Abbey Construction Northwest is the latest casualty of the harsh winds of Covid-19 as they take their toll on the sector which has seen record levels of company failures.  Known as Abbey CNW the firm have been a principle contractor based in Liverpool, delivering what they call ‘high quality construction projects throughout the North West.’ Sadly the Government’s Build, Build, Build plans have come too late for many in the construction industry.

No more cars

The car delivery firm Mack Transport of Harwich has come to an end. The family run business who pride ourselves on their ‘personal, competitive and reliable service’ are the latest casualty of the collapse in the motor industry triggered by Covid-19. Writing in Autocar Felix Page reported: “UK new car registrations fell 89% year on year last month as a result of the nationwide lockdown, making it the worst May for car sales since 1952. The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveal that just 20,247 cars were registered last month, down from 183,724 in May 2019. Of these, 12,900 were for private sales and 6638 were fleet purchases.”

Cem Press end game

Back in the winter Richard Stuart-Turner of trade publication Print Week reported on the demise of wall paper sample book manufacturer Cem Press. Now the holdings firm CEM Press Holdings Limited has gone into voluntary liquidation. Print Week reported in January when a buyer couldn’t be found for Cem Press: “According to its most recently filed accounts at Companies House for the year ended 31 December 2018, Cem Press, which is registered as CEM Press Ltd, recorded a turnover of £2.85m but incurred a net loss of £210,287.”

Firms wait six months to be paid

The Daily Mail has reported on a survey by Market Finance that found 15% of UK firms wait up to 6 months to be paid and that 90% of businesses still haven’t been paid for all their invoices before the lockdown. Another painful statistic is that 25% of all workers in the furlough scheme will be made redundant when it ends this autumn. Other stats included that the average SME received £211,667, on average, from their CBILS loan application with £148,917 still owed to them since March 2020, the vast majority of businesses (81%) are also expecting to wait longer to be paid for the goods they provide and work they do from now on. The Mail reported: “Half anticipate waiting anywhere between 14-30 days beyond normal terms (45 days). Whilst 15% reported they could be waiting anywhere between 3-6 months longer to be paid for work.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Latest ICSM Credit News: Monsoon and other retailing troubles; Intu enters administration, Non-Standard ‘on the brink’; various CVAs and pre-packs; and more news of firms in trouble and who to avoid

Pic: Retailer Monsoon have been under pressure

Latest ICSM Credit News: Monsoon and other retailing troubles; Intu enters administration, Non-Standard ‘on the brink’; various CVAs and pre-packs; and more news of firms in trouble and who to avoid

Company Rescue have reported on research by accountants KPMG on under pressure UK firms with concerns raised over the retail sector. The insolvency specialist noted: “KPMG analysed account filings of UK businesses with revenues in excess of £10 million over a five-year period to the end of 2018. It was found that over all, one in five UK businesses are financially stressed, with over 1,000 companies in situations of acute distress.”

ICSM Credit has seen a growth in firms having problems with cash flow created by an economic slowdown in 2019 and the Covid-19 crisis this year.

Stressed out Intu

They have been struggling for some time with vast debts but the curse of Covid-19 has forced the owner of some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, Intu, into administration. However the firm that owns the Trafford Centre, the Lakeside complex, and Braehead, will continue to keep its centres open while KPMG seek a solution. Intu tried to seek an agreement with its lenders before throwing in the towel and facing the inevitable.

“Shoppers shouldn’t be too concerned as someone will buy all or parts of the vast Intu empire,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM. “Even without shops those centres are prime real estate. The administrators will keep the centres open while they negotiate with lenders and hopefully find a buyer.”

Wirecard woes

Thousands of people in the UK who use Wirecard cannot access their cash today after the FCA has frozen the Newcastle based credit outfit’s operations. The UK licence of Wirecard Card Solutions has been frozen after its parent company filed for insolvency in Germany. In the meantime business people and many self-employed will be unable to pay bills, rent and many other services vital for business.

The BBC defined Wirecard Card Solutions as a company that serves prepaid cards, such as the U Account, which marketed itself as an alternative to a bank which helped people to budget and avoid hefty overdraft fees. They said: “The regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it had ordered Newcastle-based Wirecard Card Solutions to cease all regulated activities in order to further protect customer money”.

The BBC reported that the funds are not protected, as they are in banks, by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but the firm said customers’ money was held safely in segregated accounts but the FCA has told people affected to contact their card provider. Wirecard last week disclosed a £1.7bn hole in its accounts, tipping it into insolvency.

You say Carillion, I say Capita

Two and a half years ago Carillion went bust leaving millions of pounds in unpaid bills with their vast range of suppliers, thousands of jobs trashed and a string of unfinished new builds including half-finished schools and hospitals. Parallels have been drawn with Capita who have struggled in recent times as debts mount and the curse of Covid-19 takes a hit. The vast out sourcing firm that has Government contracts taking up much of its work employs more than 60,000 people and has started laying off staff. More of a concern is that it has seen its share price plummet to just 43p from 183p at Christmas.

“Capita has been flagged up for months now as being in danger,” said ICSM Credit’s Ian Carrotte, “The Carillion affair was a total disaster – especially as like Capita – those in the know kept saying all was well – and we know what happened eventually. Never give credit unless you are guaranteed of payment to a firm that is clearly in trouble is my advice.”

Finance firm in trouble

Lucy White writing for the Daily Mail reported last week that lender Non-Standard was ‘on the brink’ of collapse. She said: “Non-Standard Finance (NSF), which owns the Everyday Loans, Loans at Home, George Banco and Trust Two brands, said there was ‘material uncertainty’ surrounding its ability to keep operating. Shares fell 30.2 per cent to a record low of 8.03p, having been trading at close to 70p early last year. Just over a year ago, the firm was boldly pushing ahead with a £1.3billion hostile bid for rival Provident Financial.But yesterday it reported a loss before tax of £76million for 2019, after forking out £12.8million of fees relating to the failed Provident deal and writing down the value of its businesses.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “The decline has been blamed on borrowers unable to pay up or not taking out new loans due to the Covid-19 crisis but that flies in the face of the facts. Last year they make a massive loss. It’s become the easy way to blame failure, a bit like last year when collapsed firms blamed Brexit for their liquidation.”

Pre-packs for tents and shirts

Go Outdoors has been bought in a pre-pack by its parent company JD Sports adding another layer of controversy over the scheme aimed at saving the jobs of collapsed companies. The firm that sells camping equipment and other kit for use in the great open spaces of the UK said it had been hit by the Covid-19 crisis with no footfall for three months.

“It’s not a good look,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit, “as the suppliers won’t get paid and since the firm was already struggling before the lock down then it is likely to find trading tough again. In the meantime all those firms that supply the goods are left high and dry.”

He said a similar situation was possible at the shirt company TH Lewin. The firm’s new owner is said to have drafted in restructuring experts to seek an arrangement that may lead to the closure of the majority of its 66 stores. The Sunday Times reported that restructuring firm, ReSolve, was called in for the menswear retailer to make the brand move online with just a few stores.

Ian Carrotte pointed out it had become a trend during the Covid-19 pandemic as other retailers were using pre-packs to be re-acquired by their owners such as retailers Quiz, Kath Kidston and Monsoon Accessorize.

Virgin Atlantic’s funding struggle

Sky News have reported this week that Virgin Atlantic Airways is ‘racing to stitch together a £900m privately funded rescue deal within days after concluding that it was unlikely to secure an emergency government bailout.’

The news network said: “We can reveal that the airline founded by Sir Richard Branson in 1984 has substantially increased the size of its proposed refinancing amid forecasts of a protracted post-coronavirus recovery for the aviation industry.”

City sources said that Virgin Atlantic, led by chief executive Shai Weiss, was now targeting an overall package of at least £800m and potentially as much as £900m, as talks with a wide range of stakeholders continue before a deadline in early July. If the talks fail and the Government also refuses to help then the airline would enter administration.

“My understanding is that a pre-pack has already been lined up,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit. “It’s the go-to strategy in these situations as nobody is going to let an airline that size disappear. The losers will be the creditors and staff. That’s why no one in their right mind should offer credit to firms in danger of collapse.”  

Liverpool hotel bought out of administration

Legacy Hotels have acquired the famed Liverpool hotel 30 James Street from the administrators. The Liverpool hotel was run by Signature Living until it went into administration last month as the development group fell into financial trouble. It is one of a number of companies within the Signature Living group to go bust.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Business trashed, jobs lost, economy ruined, lives destroyed, 60,000+ dead: yes the Government’s handling of Covid 19 has been a balls up from the start

For a so-called libertarian Tory Boris Johnson has turned Britain into a depressing, red-tape filled, job’s worth empowered, nanny state where the economy is trashed, the arts destroyed, jobs lost by the million and businesses driven to the wall in their tens of thousands.

It’s enough to make you long for the days of Theresa May or even a Jeremy Corbyn Government – I can’t believe either of those two administrations would have been worse at handling the Covid-19 crisis.

Bunglers in Downing Street

Apparently the crisis is over according to the bunglers in Downing Street – and yet there are as many deaths now (if not more) from the wretched virus as there were when we entered lockdown. So what was the point? And why are the restrictions under lockdown being eased in such an uneven and unfair manner?

Cinemas can open but not open air theatres like the Minack Theatre on the cliff tops of Cornwall. Pubs can open but with so many restrictions it will be impossible to make a profit for many and the convivial atmospheres taken away. Private schools remain closed but state schools are told to reopen, shops can open but all the pleasures of shopping such as having a good old browse are denied. Then there’s the continued ban on village cricket, taking a dip in your local swimming pool and as for the restrictions on how hair salons can operate – don’t get me started. We are living in a dumbed down dystopian future when the police can stop you in Wales if you travel more than five miles from home or arrest you if you refuse to wear a mask on a bus in England.

Barnard Castle affair

Ever since the Dominic Cummings at Barnard Castle affair a big chunk of the population have taken the common sense approach and broken the lockdown rules by assessing their own personal risk. It’s what adults do every day and it certainly doesn’t need the Government to instruct them on how to live their lives. The Governments of the UK suddenly had a chance to assert their authority by laying down unworkable rules during the coronavirus outbreak but failed spectacularly to protect key workers, health workers and residents of care homes. Their first priority should have been those most vulnerable to the virus and allowed the rest of the population to have the facts and warnings and make up their own minds as the Swedish authorities did. And in Sweden they have a lower death rate from Covid-19 per million people than we do – but they haven’t sacrificed their economy and jobs to the extent we have.

One million left with nothing

The furlough scheme may have been a godsend for many workers but all the grants, loans and subsidies were not available to around one million freelancers, recently employed, company directors of tiny businesses and a whole host of other workers. Many firms have abused the system insisting their staff continue to work from home by taking emails and sorting out orders and queries – and thus subsidizing companies with tax payers’ money. And as the scheme comes to an end – many firms are simply shutting up shop, buying the core of the business off the administrators, dumping the debt and restarting under another name.

Curtain twitchers

What is needed is a Government that treats us as grown-ups. Here are the facts – nobody should be forced to work or be placed in a situation where they could be infected or if they are simply vulnerable – now decide how to deal with the virus using your own judgement. We do it when we make a call over flu, mumps, measles and all the other common diseases which can kill or certainly make us very ill. Instead the curtain twitchers and the holier-than-thou lockdown evangelists lambast the demonstrators in London, sunbathers in Bournemouth and picnickers in the parks – reporting them to the police who cannot enforce the regulations – and surprise, surprise – despite the hysteria outdoor gatherings haven’t created a peak in infections. Instead it is confined and over-crowded spaces where the virus has been passed on – you’d have thought the air heads in Downing Street would have worked that one out themselves since the PM contracted the virus that way.

A bureaucratic and dictatorial Britain

Pubs without the camaraderie, school without gossiping in the corridor, shopping without browsing and football without supporters. It’s a bureaucratic and dictatorial Britain which has destroyed businesses, livelihoods and jobs, put the fear of God into otherwise reasonable people, left a health time bomb and an economic and educational legacy that will take years to recover from. It could have been handled so much better.

Harry Mottram

Harry Mottram is a freelance journalist. His website is at http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/

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Joycelyn Neve Pic: The Caterer

ICSM Credit Latest News: Gastropub owner ‘heartbroken’ by insolvency; Intu finally admits the inevitable; and Go Outdoors and Hotter crash; plus more news…

Trade publication The Caterer has reported on one of the devastating effects what some in business feel has been the unnecessary Covid-19 shut down has caused: the ruin of perfectly good businesses. Emma Lake wrote in her article for The Caterer: “Founder of the award-winning Seafood Pub Company Joycelyn Neve has said she is ‘heartbroken’ to have appointed administrators to the 10-site group after failing to secure a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL). Neve, who won the Pub and Bar Award at the 2016 Cateys, founded Seafood Pub Company when she was 25 years old with the 2010 opening of the Oyster & Otter in Blackburn, growing the business across the north west.”

Family history

The journalist said the seafood-led concept was born out of her family’s history in the fishing industry, which dates back to the 18th century, with her father Chris most recently co-founding Fleetwood fish firm C&G Neve.

In a statement Neve said: “Seafood Pub Company has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators. Unable to access government support from a CBIL, an internal fundraise followed with the bank and investors. Whilst both were supportive, the investor fundraise failed, as did a subsequent management buyout attempt. Without funding, and no income since the forced closure, the business will go into administration.”

“It goes without saying I am truly heartbroken to have lost the business, but even more so for my team and seafood family. We fought as hard as possible, every step of the way and I am just so sorry that we weren’t able to save the business. I can’t thank the team, guests, suppliers, and everyone who has been part of Seafood Pub Company enough, for their support and friendship the past nine years and especially for the kindness and well wishes at this incredibly difficult time.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “This is a classic case of how good businesses have been destroyed during the pandemic. And in my opinion the crisis has killed many enterprises in the hospitality industry completely needlessly. If the lock down had been less draconian along the lines of Sweden more businesses would have survived.”

Intu bows to the inevitable

The BBC business department have reported on the shopping centre giant Intu’s latest financial troubles. They report: “Intu, which owns some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, has appointed administrators as a “contingency” in case financial rescue talks fail. In March, the owner of the Trafford Centre and Lakeside said it was in talks with lenders about new funding. Intu had been struggling before coronavirus to fill outlets within some centres sites, and had heavy debts. On Tuesday, Intu said “notwithstanding the progress made” it had appointed KPMG to plan for administration.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit issued a warning to potential suppliers to Intu earlier in the Covid-19 crisis who may not get paid if the company entered administration. He said Intu’s problems were compounded by Covid-19 but the seeds of their difficulties were sown last year when they made a £2bn loss – something any firm would have trouble coping with.

Go Outdoors is about to go

The Daily Mail’s business section have reported on the demise of another bricks and mortar retailer hit by the Covid-19 crisis. They reported: “JD Sports has confirmed it is looking at a number of options for its struggling subsidiary Go Outdoors as it filed for court protection to keep the firm’s creditors at bay. The update comes in the wake of reports at the weekend that outdoor equipment retailer Go Outdoors, which has 67 stores and employs 2,300 people, was on the brink of administration. But the firm’s parent, JD Sports, said it is yet to hire administrators to take on the business. Deloitte is understood to have been put in charge of the administration process, which could see Go Outdoors undergo a restructuring to ease its debts and rent obligations.”

The Manchester-based JD Sports outift bought Go Outdoors for £112million in 2016 but like many retailers has struggled with changing shopping habits including a switch on online purchases.

Hotter in hot water

The shoe shop chain Hotter is reported to have launched a Company Voluntary Arrangement in order to save itself from a total collapse. If the creditors agree to their plans then most of the 80 stores would close leaving just 15 to continue supplying the British public with footwear. Company Rescue have reported: “Electra Private Equity, its parent company, said the management had been in discussion with its retail landlords to seek agreement to reduce the number of stores to a more viable level and cost. However, discussions had been unsuccessful in reaching the agreement needed to allow the retailer to continue.”

Bristol truck firm stops trucking

Motor Transport’s Chris Tindall has reported on the collapse of the Bristol haulier Drive Force (UK) with the loss of 47 jobs. He wrote: “The Bristol company appointed Paul Wood and Simon Haskew at Begbies Traynor on 4 June and its doors were closed for the last time.”

The journalist reported on the words of Wood, a partner at Begbies Traynor, who said: “The company had been experiencing significant financial difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and was unable to meet its outstanding costs. Despite using the government’s furlough scheme for a number of months, sadly the business had no viable prospect of a return to future trading.”

Motor Transport said the firm was in incorporated in 1999, and was a specialist in bulk car and HGV distribution and storage across the UK and Europe. It held a standard international licence covering three operating centres; two in Exeter and one at its main Bristol depot where it was authorised to run 25 HGVs.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Print industry news: Jo Francis on business, trade bodies merge, death of former chairman of Picon, BPIF’s report on Q1 and Print Business on Covid-19’s effects

Jo Francis of Print Week magazine

The print industry is well represented in ICSM Credit with trade bodies and major companies making up a substantial section of their membership. So any news of how the industry is faring is of interest, Writing in the trade publication Print Week Jo Francis has reported on the state of play of firms as they look to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.

Publication printers are in particular suffering from the economic shut down as members of the public have broken their habits of buying newspapers and magazines as they have been in lock down. She reported: “Prinovis UK in Liverpool, the last remaining publication gravure printer in the UK, is consulting on 92 redundancies at its Speke site. The £66m turnover firm employed 483 staff according to its most recent accounts, so it would reduce its headcount by nearly 20% if the redundancies go ahead.”

She said in her article: “Printing industry bosses are wrangling with a number of issues, including trying to work out what level of business is likely to return. One senior industry source commented: ‘Covid will increase structural change in print. What will happen in the normal busy season from July to October? What will happen with retail? It’s hard to see travel bouncing back. We are trying to work out what volumes are there now, what will come back and how quickly; and what won’t come back.’”

BPIF Outlook Report

Ian Carrotte said some sectors of the industry had been in decline for years but the Covid-19 crisis had accelerated trends such as the fall in demand for newspapers. “There will be a major restructuring with many firms going to the wall although out of all recessions come new players. One simple observation that comes from the lockdown is the amount on online shopping that’s taken place. That is a huge boost to the couriers – many of who are members of ICSM – but also the packaging and cardboard industries.

“The BPIF – it’s a trade body for the print industry – said in their Outlook survey that confidence has been decimated in the business in quarter one because of Covid-19. They cite the Credit Crunch of 2008 as the last time it was this bad but I feel it’s worse.”

The BPIF Outlook Report said: “After two quarters of marginal improvements at the end of last year, the forecasted output balance of +15 for Q1 was wiped out as 60% of respondents experienced a decline in output. Just under a quarter of respondents (23%) held output steady, while 17% increased output levels. As a result of the dramatic decline, the Q1 balance was -43. This is the worst since Q1 2009 when the industry was dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis. However, it is Q2 that is expected to bear the brunt of the impact, due to the UK lockdown that was announced by prime minister Boris Johnson on the evening of 23 March.”

Gareth Ward is a well known figure in the print industry

Print Business report

The editor of industry publication Print Business Gareth Ward has given a breakdown of the various aspects of the affect the Covid-19 crisis has had on the business. However it’s not all doom and gloom. He writes: “In Nottingham, carton printer Wilkins has seen a surge in orders as supermarkets struggle to keep the shelves full. If packaging is enjoying an increase in demand, so to should other sectors. Europe wide trade association Intergraf has called for print to be designated an ‘essential service’ during the crisis. It points out that print is needed for packaging, hygiene products and medicines; information leaflets, posters and government communications; newspapers (though distribution is an issue if workers are not commenting to pick up their daily and one in ten at least has no access to the internet; and books, which need to keep up with demand from a population confined to their homes except for the weekly shop at the supermarket.”

Tribute to former Picon man

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said the print industry had lost one its champions after the news of the death of Martin Olive aged 76,  was reported in Print Business magazine by Gareth Ward. He said: “Martin had been chairman of Picon twice and was the boss at Openshaws supplying consumables to the litho industry. Picon have been staunch supporters of ICSM Credit offering their members the benefits of credit intelligence – even more vital in these uncertain times. On behalf of everyone at ICSM I would like to pass our condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Gareth Ward wrote: “Olive was of the affable variety of Yorkshiremen, with a strong belief that once agreement had been reached then that deal would be adhered to.”

Brendan Perring. Pic: SignLink

Print industry trade associations merge

Print Monthly’s Rob Fletcher has reported on the merger of two of the printing industry’s trade groups the Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA) and the British Association of Print and Communication (BAPC).

He notes: “The two bodies say that by joining forces, they will combine their shared focus of supporting and driving print in the long-term. Sidney Bobb, who has served as chairman of the BAPC more than three decades, will take on the role of BAPC president, while Graeme Smith will continue as chairman of the IPIA. Former Print Monthly editor Brendan Perring will now serve as chairman of the BAPC.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM credit welcomed the news. He said: “The IPIA is a member of ICSM Credit and enjoy the benefits of membership with credit intelligence, debt collection and inside information on who is in trouble and which industries are struggling. Printers serve just about every business in the UK so members hear in advance bad news of the likes of Thomas Cooke or Carillion so they can avoid their business. I’m sure Brendan will be a proactive and effective chairman of the BAPC and we wish him all the best in his new and expanded role within both organisations.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Suppliers beware of the cold winds of recession as companies default, propose CVAs and plead Covid-19 poverty rather than pay up (latest list here)

When one of the largest stationers, paper and envelope suppliers in the UK went bust in May, suppliers were left with £3m in unpaid invoices. Spicers Office Team’s management said the collapse was caused by the Covid-19 crisis bringing much of their business to a halt.

“That’s not entirely true,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM, “the Covid-19 excuse is being trotted out like Brexit uncertainties were last year. Spicers had massive debts and as soon as they hit March 23’s lock down they couldn’t see a way forward. They will be followed by many more like them as furloughing ends and suppliers have to face up to the cold winds of recession this year and be on guard.”

He said there were a raft of companies that suppliers must be wary of in all industries and it was essential not to give what he called ‘free loans in the form of unpaid supplies and services’ to customers who then go bust.

“If you get a big order from a company you’ve not had before then check them out with ICSM. We hear of who is in trouble and not paying their bills from our members. From hotels to printing companies the word gets out – so don’t get caught,” he said.

The hotel chain Suite Hospitality has entered administration

There is considerable concern over a number of firms with problems this week. The hotel chain Suite Hospitality has entered administration while Poundstretcher is looking to shut half its 500 plus stores. Ian Carrotte said any firm making major restructuring plans must be kept on eye on. Another firm to go bus this week is Wicksteed park in Kettering that opened as a theme and pleasure park 99 years ago.

Ian Carrotte said that construction giant Mace’s report this month paints a gloomy picture – but one that suppliers need to take note of. It reports that there will be ‘a return to cut-throat bidding and cashflow drying up as some of the issues facing the industry in the coming months.’ Having already laid off hundreds of workers during the crisis the Mace Group headquartered in London, employs approximately 5,000 people in the UK and abroad with a turnover in the billions.

LATEST NEWS

No saints in the High Street

Fashion chain All Saints have proposed a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with is suppliers in a bid to stay in business with a deadline for agreement in July. Top of their list are rent reductions from landlords for their stores across the UK – with 17 in London alone. The CVA is being handled by Alvarez & Marsal – something its 3,000 staff and many suppliers will take a great interest in.

Unhealthy news from health store

Holland and Barratt have seen a £25m loss in the last financial year despite an upsurge in business during the Covid-19 crisis as they were one of the essential retailers allowed to remain open. The Retail Gazette reported at Christmas: “Holland & Barrett lenders have reportedly urged the retailer’s Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Fridman to inject new funds as tough retail conditions start to bite. According to The Sunday Telegraph, Fridman is under pressure to stabalise Holland & Barrett’s balance sheet after chief executive Tony Buffin last month warned on a sharp slowdown across the health and wellbeing retailer’s 767 stores. City sources speaking to the newspaper also said Holland & Barrett’s earnings were £104 million in the year to September, which did not meet expectations.”

Shopping centres owner’s £121 loss

London Stock Exchange listed NewRiver REIT who owns 33 shopping centres, 25 retail warehouses, 14 high street units and over 700 public houses has revealed a £37m loss last year with a post tax loss of £121 announced this week. The news of Intu also struggling to stay afloat reveals the problems of the firms that own retail centres which have been for the most part shut for the last three months.

Fashion firm swoops to buy rival’s online business

The internet based fashion house BooHoo has bought the online brands of Oasis and Warehouse out of administration for £5.25m after announcing its own online sales rose 45% during the lock down. Manchester-based Boohoo also splashed the cash and bought brands MissPap, Karen Millen and Coast earlier this year. Very few of the Oasis and Warehouse’s 1,800 workers will be taken on as the chain has already closed its 90 shops and 437 concessions in department stores.

Tipper firm tips up

Haulier P J Brown (Construction) has gone into administration blaming the end on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Based in Crawley the tipper truck and haulier founded in 1980 had 79 vehicles and have appointed joint administrators Nicholas Cusack and David Perkins of Parker Andrews and Andrew Andronikou of Quantuma. However PJ Brown (Civil Engineering) continues to trade.

Long Tall Sally cut short

The fashion company for taller women Long Tall Sally has collapsed into administration. The first store was opened in 1976 on Chiltern Street in the West End of London. By 2014 there were 10 stores in UK, five in the US, seven in Canada, and five in Germany.  On their website they have put: “We’re as sad as you are about closing Long Tall Sally but we’re here to help, so if you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. You’ll find most of them below, along with contact details for our Customer Care team. Thank you for all your support.” They have also given this email address for suppliers who have not been paid: finance@longtallsally.co.uk

Pre-pack for Oak Furnitureland firm

The once mighty Oak Furnitureland retailer has been bought via a Deloitte managed pre-pack deal by global investment management firm, Davidson Kempner Capital Management for an undisclosed sum. Reports say that Alex Fisher, the companies’ current CEO will stay in post and the 1,491 employees will also be retained in the 100 plus chain of stores. Based in Swindon the new owners say they will negotiate with landlords and suppliers over unpaid bills. 

Former owner linked to bust bakery cafe chain Le Pain Quotiden

French-themed coffee and bread chain Le Pain Quotidien has been bought out of administration by BrunchCo21, linked to its former owner, Cobepa. Some 200 staff were canned from its 26 outlets when it crashed this spring. The new owners hope to negotiate with the landlords of the remaining 16 properties in order to re-float the business although there is no word of what happens to unpaid suppliers.

Poundstretcher

The high street retailer has remained largely open throughout the shut down as the nationwide chain sells food and medicines and was thus one of the exempted businesses. Despite this the company is in trouble and looking to launch a company voluntary arrangement  with its creditors. In particular is wants its landlords to cut rents to 330 of its 450 stores.

Travelodge

A group of landlords have demanded the hotel chain Travelodge reveal details of its planned CVA ahead of a creditors meeting on June 19. The CVA would see a big cut in rents as well as shareholders injecting £240m into the business to ensure no hotels are closed.

The Restaurant Group

Another firm in the hospitality industry seeking a CVA is The Restaurant Group (TRG). If the revised finances and rents can be agree the group who own Frankie & Benny’s could close 125 outlets of their 226 sites. Reports say their Chiquito, Coast to Coast and Garfunkel’s brands will also be also impacted, but its Wagamama restaurants are safe.

Warning from ICSM Credit’s Ian Carrotte

When fashion brand Autonomy went into administration in March it owed suppliers £940,000 and was ordering stock right up tothe last minute. No business is safe from insolvency. It’s a warning to all suppliers who go on blindly suppling goods and services which will never be paid for. There are a lot of companies in all industries that are struggling to survive but as long as they are paying suppliers, or have a repayment plan in place or another arrangement that guarantees payment – then fine. But if a client airily dismisses concerns over non-payment then the rule is DO NOT SUPPLY THEM.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Comment: furloughing has simply delayed the inevitable for zombie firms (Plus news of pre-packs, insolvencies and company collapses)

As soon as the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the introduction of the furlough scheme at the start of the Covid-19 crisis my immediate reaction was it wouldn’t end well. How can companies survive with little or no income when all the overheads continue as before? Without reserves firms face at best a shrunk down operation and at worst insolvency.

And that’s precisely what we are seeing as retailers reopen – or not – and the hospitality and travel industries plead for a relaxation of the two metre social distancing rule. Around 600,000 workers have lost their jobs since March 23, with many more to follow as businesses great and small realise they have to restructure or collapse. In short furloughing has simply prolonged the inevitable.

Zombies kept alive by furloughing staff

Furloughing has kept zombie companies alive for a few weeks but since so many were barely able to repay their debts before the crisis there is and will be a high casualty rate. In retail there’s Autonomy, Cath Kidston and Victoria’s Secret to name but a few while the list of empty pubs and restaurants that won’t reopen increases daily. In contracting industries like high street retailing, the newspaper business and motor manufacturing the furlough scheme is if anything making a bad situation worse.

Meanwhile many profitable start-ups, freelancers and sole-traders have been unable to access the grants, the loans or even the furloughing scheme – and have been left to fend for themselves. Instead a list of the greedy companies with plenty of cash such as Virgin Atlantic, Arcadia, Primark and Optare have helped themselves to what their lawyers call ‘free money’ at the tax-payers’ expense. With an end to furloughing in sight the zombie companies, the how-have-they-survived-until-now companies, the heavily in debt firms and businesses with unhelpful bank managers will go bust. And those that are left will wonder why billions of pounds were ploughed into furloughing when perfectly sound businesses were given little or no help. It is all working out rather predictably with the end of furloughing resulting in collapsed firms, unpaid suppliers and millions out of work.

Ian Carrotte

News headlines

Fashion firm swoops to buy rival’s online business

The internet based fashion house BooHoo has bought the online brands of Oasis and Warehouse out of administration for £5.25m after announcing its own online sales rose 45% during the lock down. Manchester-based Boohoo also splashed the cash and bought brands MissPap, Karen Millen and Coast earlier this year. Very few of the Oasis and Warehouse’s 1,800 workers will be taken on as the chain has already closed ita 90 shops and 437 concessions in department stores.

Tipper firm tips up

Haulier P J Brown (Construction) has gone into administration blaming the end on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Based in Crawley the tipper truck and haulier founded in 1980 had 79 vehicles and have appointed joint administrators Nicholas Cusack and David Perkins of Parker Andrews and Andrew Andronikou of Quantuma. However PJ Brown (Civil Engineering) continues to trade.

Long Tall Sally cut short

The fashion company for taller women Long Tall Sally has collapsed into administration. The first store was opened in 1976 on Chiltern Street in the West End of London. By 2014 there were 10 stores in UK, five in the US, seven in Canada, and five in Germany.  On their website they have put: “We’re as sad as you are about closing Long Tall Sally but we’re here to help, so if you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. You’ll find most of them below, along with contact details for our Customer Care team. Thank you for all your support.” They have also given this email address for suppliers who have not been paid: finance@longtallsally.co.uk

Pre-pack for oak furniture firm

The once mighty Oak Furnitureland retailer has been bought via a Deloitte managed pre-pack deal by global investment management firm, Davidson Kempner Capital Management for an undisclosed sum. Reports say that Alex Fisher, the companies’ current CEO will stay in post and the 1,491 employees will also be retained in the 100 plus chain of stores. Based in Swindon the new owners say they will negotiate with landlords and suppliers over unpaid bills. 

Former owner linked to bust bakery cafe chain Le Pain Quotiden

French-themed coffee and bread chain Le Pain Quotidien has been bought out of administration by BrunchCo21, linked to its former owner, Cobepa. Some 200 staff were canned from its 26 outlets when it crashed this spring. The new owners hope to negotiate with the landlords of the remaining 16 properties in order to re-float the business although there is no word of what happens to unpaid suppliers.

Warning from ICSM Credit about firms in trouble

When fashion brand Autonomy went into administration in March it owed suppliers £940,000 and was ordering stock right up to when they went bust. No business is safe from insolvency. It’s a warning to all suppliers as many go on trading with firms who are showing all the signs of being in trouble but blindly supply them with goods and services which will never be paid for. There are a lot of companies in all industries that are struggling to survive but as long as they are paying suppliers, or have a repayment plan in place or another arrangement that guarantees payment then fine. But if a client airily dismisses concerns without addressing them then the rule is DO NOT SUPPLY THEM.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Comment: proposed code of practice for commercial landlords and tenants is a fudge (Plus news of struggling firms suppliers may want to avoid)

Commercial tenants (and in particular those in retail, hospitality and travel) have been hammered by the Covid-19 crisis and the lock down. The Government’s Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill has given protection to commercial tenants from eviction due to rent arrears until June 30, 2020.

What happens then? The answer is despite all the warm words in the proposed draft copy of the Government’s code of practice about the two parties agreeing a rent payment plan which prevents tenants being evicted there is nothing in it which prevents a landlord from kicking out a tenant who is three months behind in their rent. The tenant has to prove their non-payment is due to the lock down and pandemic crisis otherwise as one high street retailer said ‘the code of practice isn’t worth the paper it’s written on’.

A missed opportunity

It is another missed opportunity to give the High Street and small and medium sized businesses an even break in an incredibly difficult economic climate. Commercial rents only ever go up, while earnings for businesses (I’d say the vast majority in 2020) will go down. Utility bills only go up, there’s the long standing bone of contention of the unjust business rates – and the lack of taxation of firms like Amazon who pay a fraction of tax in proportion to what the average print company, newsagent, sign-maker, shop, courier or pub has to pay.

What is needed is comprehensive legislation that protects British businesses, manufacturers, retailers, hospitality and the service industries from unfair competition and high overheads. Instead the proposed code of practice for commercial landlords and tenants will be a fudge. For those it is aimed to help it is a merely a paper umbrella for a Covid-19 downpour while for landlords it is merely an inconvenience but essentially allows for the business of evictions and high rents to continue as usual.

News of famous firms in financial trouble suppliers may want to avoid

Poundstretcher

The high street retailer has remained largely open throughout the shut down as the nationwide chain sells food and medicines and was thus one of the exempted businesses. Despite this the company is in trouble and looking to launch a company voluntary arrangement  with its creditors. In particular is wants its landlords to cut rents to 330 of its 450 stores.

Travelodge

A group of landlords have demanded the hotel chain Travelodge reveal details of its planned CVA ahead of a creditors meeting on June 19. The CVA would see a big cut in rents as well as shareholders injecting £240m into the business to ensure no hotels are closed.

The Restaurant Group

Another firm in the hospitality industry seeking a CVA is The Restaurant Group (TRG). If the revised finances and rents can be agree the group who own Frankie & Benny’s could close 125 outlets of their 226 sites. Reports say their Chiquito, Coast to Coast and Garfunkel’s brands will also be also impacted, but its Wagamama restaurants are safe.

Warning from ICSM Credit’s Ian Carrotte

When fashion brand Autonomy went into administration in March it owed suppliers £940,000 and was ordering stock right up tothe last minute. No business is safe from insolvency. It’s a warning to all suppliers who go on blindly suppling goods and services which will never be paid for. There are a lot of companies in all industries that are struggling to survive but as long as they are paying suppliers, or have a repayment plan in place or another arrangement that guarantees payment – then fine. But if a client airily dismisses concerns over non-payment then the rule is DO NOT SUPPLY THEM.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Pic: Daily Telegraph

SCANDALS: how the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Post Office forced SMEs into insolvency

Two of the nation’s best known financial institutions stand accused of irregularities, allegations of fraud and mismanagement that has led to hundreds of small businesses going to the wall. The Post Office and the Royal Bank of Scotland have had practices exposed which shed light on some dubious practices which have damaged their images as the friend of small businesses.

In the first case the Post Office used a computer system which incorrectly showed that hundreds of Post Office postmasters appeared to be embezzling thousands of pounds. It led to the Post Office prosecuting the postmasters who were then fired, went bust, were fined and even sent to prison in some cases. The central issue was the sheer scale of the alleged embezzling suggested something was wrong as it landed 900 postmasters in trouble and the use of the Post Office of a Horizon computer system to check the accounts of the postmasters.

Pic: Talking Retail

After investigation by journalists it emerged the postmasters were unaware managers at the Post Office could manipulate the computer data remotely meaning potential errors could happen.

A BBC Panorama programme as well as reports in Private Eye, the national press and BBC Radio 4 revealed managers knew problems with Horizon that could make money disappear. An audit by Ernst and Young showed serious problems with Horizon suggesting the idea 900 postmasters were thieves was highly dubious.

The BBC reported this week: “It then became a central issue in a civil court case brought by 550 postmasters in 2017. The Post Office agreed to pay £58m to settle the case last year. During the trial, the Post Office admitted remote access without the postmaster’s knowledge was possible. Managers claimed they had made an honest mistake when dealing with Panorama because they had not been aware that remote access to Horizon was possible. But the programme showed its evidence to Rachel Reeves MP, who had been leading an inquiry into the Post Office and Horizon for the business select committee.”

Rachel Reeves MP was chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee said: “It is very serious that the Post Office were sitting on information that told them, and could have told the courts, and their sub postmasters, that other people could access their systems.”

The BBC reported that thousands of pages of internal Post Office documents were disclosed in the civil trial and Panorama spent months investigating previously unseen evidence.

The investigation reveals how Post Office managers ignored reports of multiple faults with the Horizon computer system. Now all 900 convictions could be overturned with the Post Office facing a billion pound bill in order to compensate the postmasters.

Ian Carrote of ICSM Credit said: “It is hard enough to run a successful local business at the best of times but to have your accounts manipulated by a third party suggesting you are a criminal – is in my opinion criminal. Some Post Offices may have seen a decline in trade with some services moved on line but they are still a vital local asset especially in small towns and villages and without this scandal far fewer would have closed.”

Pic: The Guardian

Three years ago the Royal Bank of Scotland was found to have forced hundreds of businesses to go bust by their now defunct Global Restructuring Group (GRG). The GRG would take control of an ailing business with the promise of turning it around with a system of loans and expert business consultants. Instead they forced the businesses to accept impossibly high interest rates and repayment terms and gave no expert business advice. They forced the firms into liquidation and then stripped them of their assets.

That was bad enough but last December a report by the Financial Conduct Authority announced it would take no further action despite evidence of “systemic and widespread” mistreatment of SMEs between 2008 and 2013.

The all-party parliamentary group on fair business banking and finance Kevin Hollinrake MP said: “This report is another complete whitewash and another demonstrable failure of the regulator to perform its role.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “It appears that banks are a law unto themselves. Now those hit by the scandal and lost their businesses have taken legal action to claim millions of pounds from the bank after the parliamentary group published the report in full disclosing damning evidence this year. I wish them luck as the nation needs SMEs like never before.”

ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret UK collapses into administration as the High Street takes another blow

Covid-19 and a decline in the high street retail sector creates a perfect storm for Victoria’s Secret UK

High profile lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret UK has gone into administration following an operating loss last year which strained it finances and amid the devastation of closing it 25 stores due to the lock down this year.

Deloitte are now tasked with finding a buyer for all or part of the business and attempting to save some 800 jobs and find the money to pay suppliers who have been queueing up with unpaid invoices.

“It’s another hammer blow for retailing,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit, “it makes you wonder what will be left by the end of the year. My concern is always for the suppliers as all retailers order huge amounts of stock plus are serviced by everyone from the sign-maker to the window cleaner. When a firm enters administration getting paid becomes even harder so my advice is to insist on favourable payment terms such as cash up front.”

The firm had suffered from a downturn in sales last year as it struggled to update its image as fashions changed. Its 2019 fashion show was cancelled after TV ratings slumped and there was criticism of its sexist style and a lack of diversity.

The administration follows on a long list of retail troubles with the collapse of Cath Kidston, the ongoing problems for Debenhams and the high street brand Laura Ashley experiencing again financial problems.

ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Covid-19 opinion: the lock down doctrine is flawed as without a healthy economy there isn’t a healthy country

Covid 19 – did we really have to shut down the economy? Millions out of work, businesses destroyed and an extreme cure that’s worse than the infection. Thoughts on the greatest economic folly of our time by columnist Harry Speed.

It is heresy to suggest the Government policy to stop the spread of Covid-19 by shutting down the economy is wrong – in fact I can quite believe you can be burnt at the stake for it. The lock down evangelists have turned the nation into a country of curtain twitchers and snitchers who report to the police on their neighbours for having a back garden barbecue with close relatives. They also take to social media to promote the orthodoxy of health before the economy and demand the lock down continues, schools remain closed, sport is banned and beaches and parks are empty.

The doctrine is flawed as without a healthy economy there isn’t a healthy country. Without jobs and household incomes the nation will become bankrupt. And without work and without the right to go out and about, people go nuts. Suicides, domestic violence and the damage to mental health have a huge effect on society. With health appointments abandoned there is a ticking time bomb for the NHS. Of course it is easy to demand stringent lock downs when you are indefinitely at home on full pay, retired with a large pension or in the pay of the Government with a salary guaranteed. But in the real world and in a mixed economy people need to work.

To suggest anything else and the lock downers are ready to place the self-employed, small businesses and those simply wanting to go for a game of football in the park placed on the rack and tortured for the temerity of having a different opinion.

The reason why we have adopted the insanity of lock down and closing the economy is because we’ve followed the example of China where the Covid-19 virus emerged. The Peoples Republic of China is a one party totalitarian police state who locked up journalists and threatened medics who raised the alarm. Then when they realised the virus was killing thousands of mainly elderly people they went to the other extreme of total lock down and as a result most nations have followed their example. If the virus had emerged in New Zealand or another democratic country things would have been different. South Korea and Germany’s ruthless track and trace policy have shown how the virus should have been tackled – something that sadly the UK failed to copy.

So where do we go from here? Well we don’t go on persecuting the self-employed, retailers and the hospitality, travel and holiday industries. There is only one solution to Covid-19 and that is to live with it. In the UK lock down rules are being relaxed despite the fact there are just as many deaths from the virus now than when the lock down on March 23rd was introduced. So why relax the rules? The answer is the Government has realised it can’t go on forever as apart from a growing resistance to their measures the Dominic Cummings affair blew a hole in the policy. Suddenly it no longer seemed a crime to visit relatives or simply to go fishing. We can even go shopping – hallelujah.

What business needs now is to open up to near normal with basic hygiene and social distancing in place. Pubs, cafes, cinemas should reopen along with airlines and the holiday and travel industries. Yes there will be some restrictions but where the virus flares up then measures to lock down locally can be put in place. Many diseases have no cure or a jab and Covid-19 may never be conquered. We just have to live with it.

Harry Speed

For more on Harry Speed visit his Blogspot and Facebook sites. 

ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Ugly face of the Covid-19 crisis as theatres close leaving the suppliers with nothing

Cinderella was a hit at the Southport Theatre but with the theatre shut there’s no cash

Ian Carrotte: chase invoices owed by theatres, pubs and the night time economy in general as many will not reopen

Theatres and to an extent the night time economy in general have in a way designed to allow Covid-19 and other virus’ to be passed on.

Last week Southampton Nuffield Theatres entered administration, with Southport Theatre and the Halifax Arts Centre following suit while even Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London in danger of financial collapse.

No fairytale ending: Southport Theatre is set to close due to the Covid-19 recession

Writing in the theatres’ trade magazine The Stage Matthew Hemley quoted the artistic director of the Leicester Curve Theatre Nikolai Foster as saying that the Covid-19 crisis had: “catapulted our already fragile industry into a perilous and uncertain future.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit warned that theatres and other aspects of the night time economy from pubs to night clubs and music venues to cinemas should be treated with caution as far as suppliers are concerned.

“A large theatre or arts centre have a wide range of suppliers from printers to food wholesalers,” he said, “much of which was invoiced before the lock-down and theatres went dark. Many of those invoices have not been paid and if you take Nuffield Theatre Southampton of Southport as examples then it is unlikely those places will reopen. My advice is to chase up all invoices relating to the night time economy whether it’s a pub, night club, cinema or arts centre as many will be gone come the end of the furlough scheme. At the moment many will have reserves but won’t want legal action so take advantage of our temporary free membership and free legal letters and act now.”

Tight purse strings: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is feeling the pinch

Georgia Snow for The Stage reported: “The operator of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre has gone bust due to the effects of coronavirus, forcing the Merseyside venue to shut indefinitely. Bliss Space (Southport) Ltd said the ‘devastating trading conditions’ wrought by Covid-19 combined with an uncertain future mean they had “no choice but to place the company into liquidation.”

To give an idea of the expanding nature of the crisis the BBC reported Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre as having major financial problems. It’s one of the most successful theatres in London but said it would need £5m to get its programme of shows back up and running. The BBC reported: “The Globe does not get annual funding from Arts Council England (ACE), meaning it can’t access ACE’s main £90m emergency relief fund. It said it was also turned down for a slice of a £50m pot for organisations outside the ACE annual funding regime. Instead, the Globe raises 95% of its revenue through ticket sales, guided tours, education workshops, retail and catering – which all depend upon the venue being open to the public.”

Southport Theatre has gone dark and may never reopen

Ian Carrotte said theatre was like virtually every sector of the night time economy as it has to pay its way without subsidy and relies on ticket sales, and its food and drink offering to pay wages and stage events.

“There will be a bloody bath of businesses if this carries on,” he said, “some pubs and venues have resorted to crowdfunding appeals pleading with their regular customers to help them pay bills in the meantime. It shows how bad things are but there is no sentiment in business. If you are owed money from a venue unless they offer a payment plan you must make sure you are paid.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk
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U-Shape, V-Shape, L-Shape – modelling the possible outcomes of the Covid-19 recession

As the lock down is slowly eased, speculation increases about the economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis. Clearly the economy has nose-dived since March 23rd, but the question is with such a sharp decline will the country emerge quickly out of the other side of the down turn?

Writing for the finance website Filtch economist Brian Coulton believes the health crisis will be contained in the second half of the year. He said: “Our baseline forecast does not see GDP reverting to its pre-virus levels until late 2021 in the US and Europe.”

To V-Shape or not to V-Shape that is the question

The Guardian’s Larry Elliott wrote: “If history is any guide, the global economy will eventually recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but the idea that this is going to be a V-shaped recession in the first half of 2020 followed by a recovery in the second half of the year looks absurd.”

The ideal recession is the much hyped V-shaped model which would mean things get back to pre Covid-19 levels by Christmas although as already commentated this is unlikely. Peter Hoskins of the BBC Business Desk found one example. He wrote: “A classic example of a V-shaped recession happened in America in 1953 when the booming post-World War Two economy was upended by high interest rates. After a steep decline growth was soaring again just over a year later.”

Last month the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) optimistically suggested that the economic recovery would take the form of the much hoped for V-shape but since then few commentators are predicting that outcome.

U-Shape if you want to

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said that a more likely outcome would be the U-Shape recession with a long period where the economy  ‘bumps along the bottom.’ He said: “The classic U-Shape was the US economy in the 1970s and the British ones at the beginning of the 1980s and end of the 1980s. The economy went in  quickly to a downturn and it was a good couple of years before things picked up.”

Nouriel Roubini is professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business who worked for the International Monetary Fund, the US Federal Reserve, and the World Bank is in general agreement. He said: “After the 2007-09 financial crisis, the imbalances and risks pervading the global economy were exacerbated by policy mistakes. So, rather than address the structural problems that the financial collapse and ensuing recession revealed, governments mostly kicked the can down the road, creating major downside risks that made another crisis inevitable. And now that it has arrived, the risks are growing even more acute. Unfortunately, even if the Greater Recession leads to a lacklustre U-shaped recovery this year, an L-shaped great depression will follow late.”

Nightmare of the L-shaped room

If the Credit Crunch of 2008 was U-Shaped and the 1953 recession in the US was V-shaped then it is difficult not to admit the prolonged depression of 1929-1939 was anything other than L-shaped. Only the mass production and full employment brought about by the build up to World War Two changed gears in the economy. An L-shape recession is a possibility in 2020 for several reasons. It’s global, there may not be a vaccination, huge numbers of businesses have gone bust, traditional sectors like retail, travel and hospitality have been mortally wounded and unemployment has increased.

“There is a recession coming,” said Ian Carrotte, “but strangely enough Covid-19 will come to the rescue of many firms. Any business that collapses when the furlough scheme ends can blame it on the virus, while many firms that have a successful business model but no money could phoenix and start again. It might even become socially acceptable to do that as so many businesses are in the same situation.”

Having experienced four recessions Ian Carrotte said each one is different and nobody knows how this one will pan out. “Inflation remains low, internet business has rescued many firms, and oil prices are low keeping transport costs down,” he said. “Looking back to the past it is not possible to find a parallel. Not even the flu epidemic of 1918. Then people knew the flu spread in large gatherings but they simply got on with life. Perhaps that is something we will have to do in the end as social distancing is like a handbrake on many aspects of business.”

ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk
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The paradox of fewer administrations but more companies on the brink of collapse

KPMG: fewer administrations than 2019 – but expect more than 100,000 corporate insolvencies this year

In a surprising study by KPMG the number of firms entering administration in the first week of April this year was less than the same period last year with the same reduction in failures compared to March 2019. The Bank of England predicts the economy will see a 14% retraction this year with a slump taking place as the economy gets back to normal this autumn.

Don’t take no for an answer

“There is evidence that the furlough scheme is preventing firms from collapsing,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit, “while there has been the phenomenon of zombie companies which stagger on from one year to another until the banks call in a loan, they have one bad debt or something like this crisis causes the firm to go bust. They are on borrowed time on the furlough scheme but they’re not earning anything so as soon as the safety net is pulled they’ll go under. My advice to ICSM members and anyone in business is if a firm says they will pay your invoice when the furlough scheme ends don’t believe them. They won’t have any more cash this summer and their priority will be survival. Don’t except no for an answer and press them for payment and use our free legal letters to chase them or use our debt collection service as the courts are open.”

Pic: the Irish Times

Oasis Ireland have gone into administration this week and so have women’s fashion brand Autonom. In the Midlands the motor outfit Arlington Automotive Group who make parts for Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan have also called in administrators. Car sales have collapsed to pre-1950 levels this spring and retailers like Oasis have been struggling for some time. Picsolve International (the photography company) have also called in administrators as the leisure and events industry has collapsed while in Scotland where the lock down remains strict the construction industry has seen the contractor Neil McGougan call it a day.

Worse than 2008

Writing for Accountancy Age Tom Lemmon reported: “The coronavirus crisis is likely to directly force between 70,000 and 100,000 companies into insolvency, according to Gareth Harris, partner at RSM Restructuring Advisory, while R3, the trade body, suggests that figure could grow substantially over a longer period of time.”

The Bank of England

Ian Carrotte noted that the credit crunch of 2008 created 114,000 corporate insolvencies. He said: “I’ve seen figures likening this downturn to the 1930s but this is a different economy from then. There were still firms making carts for horse drawn vehicles, whale born corsets and hats. However the economy is much larger now and interconnected internationally so this recession could top the effects of 2008 by a long way.”

Two spikes of insolvencies

It is a view shared by Duncan Swift, the president of insolvency trade body R3 who feels the number of corporate insolvencies could be several times higher than 100,000. He said: “In the 2008 financial crisis there were 114,000 corporate insolvencies. Now that was as bad a recession as we’ve had in living memory since the 1930s and it was 114,000. Which is why the 800,000 just needs a bit of context putting around it. 800,000 would be a phenomenal number.”

He said there could be two spikes during the crisis with one at the end of the lock down and one further away as firms who survive initially but then fail in the following months.

ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit had more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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ICSM Credit Latest News: high risk credit ratings for firms listed plus Hotel Chocolat in trouble and the taxman is after firms abusing the furlough scheme

ICSM Credit Latest News: high risk credit ratings published – includes a house builder and a school; Hotel Chocolat’s problems, Next in trouble and the taxman is after firms abusing the furlough scheme

The latest news from Companies House shows several firms have had their credit ratings moved to high risk and a credit limit of zero as the present Covid-19 crisis continues.

Bowbridge Homes (Site E) Limited, Motive Agency Limited, Martins Waste Clearance, Rope Access Man Power UK Limited have all suffered the indignity of a zero rating while the privately owner Park School in Somerset currently in administration is also placed in the high risk category. Opened in 1851 the school moved out of the centre of Yeovil in 2018 in a bid to attract more pupils at a larger site but has struggled ever since. The Covid-19 outbreak has meant a drop in parents signing up their children for the new term plunging the enterprise into administration with Grant Thornton charged with finding a buyer.

Chocolate problem

Meanwhile on the High Street John Lewis has announced they may not reopen all their stores after lock down and Next has seen a 52% fall in sales in the year up to April 25. Another casualty – this time of the lucrative Easter egg market – is Hotel Chocolat who were forced to close their stores for the industry’s second biggest season of the year. However they did get a sales spike just before the closure and are concentrating on online sales but have had to alter their bank lending facility as a result reported Elena Cherubini in The Grocer.

The taxman cometh

ICSM Credit understands from its sources that HMRC are pursuing several big name firms for forcing furloughed staff to work in direct contravention of the rules – which if proved could lead to massive fines. The Guardian reported this week that Sports Direct and House of Fraser have allegedly breached the rules by sending managers into work and asking them not to clock on. Don’t forget the taxman doesn’t stop working during the lock down.

Logistic issue

Despite the boom in logistics there has been another casualty in the industry with Carters Haulage in Hertfordshire entering administration. Chris Tindall writing in Motor Transport said the firm had expanded from one lorry to 40 in just three years to service a blue chip client and then lost the business months later. He reported: “In a report to creditors, administrators at SFP also said it was now investigating ‘certain transactions’ prior to their appointment and that it may be advisable for the business to remain in administration for the time being.”

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk
 ReturnPosted by Harry Mottram on 4th May 2020 12:21:48Tel 0844 854 1850 ___ Fax 01454 327 355Privacy Policy   © ICSM 2020 All Rights Reserved

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Print, paper and office industries stunned by Spicers notice to appoint administrators

Disaster for suppliers and staff of Spicers Office Team as firm looks set for administration as the Covid-19 crisis strikes again

Last week ICSM Credit issued a warning to all its members that Spicers Office Team known as SPOT were in danger of collapsing and urged its associates to chase down overdue invoices with the outfit.

There has been shock this week as the warning appears to have come true as the firm has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators.

Writing in the trade journal Print Week Jo Francis reported: “The notice of intention to appoint administrators is for both Spicers and Office Team. Office Team is a nationwide distributor of stationery and office supplies, and its business services include print management. Spicers supplies and distributes office products and office furniture.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said it was the worst possible news as the list of suppliers in danger of not getting paid was ‘horrendous.’ He said: “We flagged this up last month as a problem and advised members to stock granting credit to Spicers and insist on immediate payment of overdue invoices. Some have made progress on that front using our free legal letters and debt collection service but if Spicers goes then it will be on the same level as North Star when they went to the wall.”

Jo Francis quoted SPOT’s chief executive Steve Horne as saying: ““The board continue to explore all options to ensure a satisfactory future for the business and secure as many jobs as possible. Whilst we continue to look for solutions, we are committed to support and supply our customers,” Horne stated.

“During this period we remain open for business and will continue to supply our customers with any products we have in stock. Where there is an impact on our supply chain and we cannot guarantee the supply of goods, we will continue to be proactive and help our customers source these products by providing details of our suppliers, where the order could be completed directly with them in the short term.”

Jo Francis said: “SPOT had sales of £281m in its most recent accounts, for 2018. Restructuring and other costs resulted in a near-£26m operating loss. The business had around 1,440 employees at the time. This morning (29 April) SPOT’s owner Better Capital announced that it planned to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) and was proposing to cancel its listing on the London Stock Exchange. Its two funds were due to run until June 2021, but the Covid-19 situation has adversely affected its investments.”

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk
 ReturnPosted by Harry Mottram on 30th Apr 2020 11:18:22Tel 0844 854 1850 ___ Fax 01454 327 355Privacy Policy   © ICSM 2020 All Rights Reserved

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AGENDA WEST Business News from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed on why many new mums and over 60s workers won’t get the Government’s financial support during the covid-19 crisis

IPSE research: over-60s and new mothers among groups most likely to miss out on government self-employed support

Over-60s, 50-59-year-olds and new mothers are three of the groups most likely to miss out on government self-employed support because they went into freelancing too recently, according to new research by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed).

The research shows that there were 83,000 more self-employed people aged 60 or over last year out of a total 156,000 rise in the number of self-employed people. This was an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year. There were also 38,000 more 50-59-year-olds (an increase of 3%) and 22,000 more 16-29-year-olds (an increase of 4%). There were also 25,000 more self-employed mothers (a 4% increase on the previous year).

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, introduced last month to provide income support to self-employed people during the Coronavirus crisis, is unlikely to help most of these people because it is only open to self-employed people who filed a tax return for the year 2018-19.

IPSE’s research also found that occupationally, between 2018 and 2019, the largest increases in self-employed people were in teaching and education (34,000), artistic, literary and media occupations (16,000) and legal professions (16,000). At 24 per cent, the increase in the number of teaching and education professionals was particularly sharp.

Despite these increases, however, the research showed that the top solo self-employed professions are still construction and building trades (444,000), road transport drivers (337,000), artistic, literary and media occupations (336,000) and agricultural and related trades (222,000).

Across the UK, the highest increases in self-employed people were in South East England (77,000), North West England (38,000), North East England (27,000) and Scotland (26,000). Overall, however, the self-employed community is most concentrated in the South East (21%), Greater London (18%) and the South West (10%).

Chloé Jepps, Head of Research at IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), said: “This research, looking at the year-on-year increase in the number of self-employed, suggests the groups that were growing most quickly last year and are therefore most likely to miss out on support now.

“The groups most at risk of being left out in the cold seem to be not only older freelancers, but also mothers – who are if anything more likely to be in need of support.

“In 2019, more and more people were going into self-employment for the freedom and flexibility this way of working provides – the freedom to fit your work around your life rather than the other way round. Now, however, these people’s incomes are drying up and, because of a flaw in the government’s support scheme, most are not getting the help they need to keep their businesses afloat.

“The government must get the newly self-employed – as well as limited company contractors and others who are missing out – the help and support they need. We urge the government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to people who became self-employed in 2019/20 – and use this year’s tax returns to get them the financial assistance they need.

“The self-employed are the dynamo of the UK economy – they contributed £305bn last year alone – and we will be looking to them to get the economy back on its feet in the coming months. But to do that, all parts of the varied and diverse self-employed community urgently need support now.”

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST Business News from ICSM Credit: After the coronavirus lock down: a look into one firm’s crystal ball

It is not official but little by little many businesses are beginning to reopen in a limited way writes Harry Mottram for ICSM Credit. Traffic has picked up on the motorways and some firms who thought they were non-essential enterprises have found a way round the dictates from central Government. B&Q have reopened 64 stores including their garden centres while Halfords have reopend the majority of their 460 stores.

Pharmacies, petrol stations, newsagents, bicycle shops, home and hardware stores, launderettes and dry cleaners, garages, pet shops, post offices and banks have remained for the large part open although not all businesses in these sectors have kept their doors open. Supermarkets and corner stores have remained open and parts of the building trade have maintained operations despite criticism.

Various dates have been mooted in the media as to when the lock down will be lifted with the received wisdom being it will be a gradual reopening with schools and garden centres first and pubs and restaurants last. The question is what state will business be in when it happens? Here are a few scenarios:

Early lift-off in May

With the outbreak under control and the depressing death and infection statistics falling to near zero the economy is restarted with a general back to work. Huge demands from consumers for almost all types of products sparks a massive sigh of relief from all and as a result the smallest number of firms going into administration. High Street stores such as Debenhams and Zara reopen and find cash flow streaming back to Christmas levels. Struggling printing companies, sign makers suddenly have an order book of work that guarantees business for the rest of 2020. Despite banks being difficult during the lock down and insisting on commercial loans with high interest rates finance directors realise their revised cash flow forecasts mean they will be back in the black by the autumn and can give their lenders two fingers. All highly unlikely but we live in hope that we might escape the worst.

Trickle back in June

June 1st has been suggested by some in the teaching profession as the earliest date the schools can start to return to normal. Staggered numbers of pupils are allowed back with priority to primary and infant schools – which of course allows the parents of the children to return to work and nurseries and childminders to reopen. At the same time clothing stores, leisure centres for outdoor sports, furnishing and furniture stores, barbers and hairdressers open with some social distancing measures in place. By June with insurers pulling cover on invoicing for firms due to there being a pandemic scores of printing firms, hauliers, manufacturers and engineering companies will find they are insolvent. Large numbers of firms call in the administrators and personal bankruptcies rocket. Don’t expect a U-shape recession.

Too late in July

If there remains a total lock down until July some firms will break ranks and vote with their feet and return to work despite the law. But up to 50% of retailers, 40% of service industry firms and 30% of manufacturers will have gone bust. Commentators have looked to the past to see how damaging a recession that would result with a late return to normal working. The Credit Crunch was bad as were the recessions of the 1980s but such a delay could be more like a depression. Later than July and we’re talking wipe-out for the pub and restaurant trades. Cinemas, night clubs, arts centres, holiday parks and tourist sites will see mass casualties especially if the lock down is reintroduced as a second wave of coronavirus sweeps the country in the autumn. Let’s hope there’s a jab available by then.

After coronavirus

These are the personal thoughts of the journalist Harry Mottram so don’t take them to heart but at present it’s hard to see light at the end of the tunnel. What is certain is there will be a major restructuring of business with some sectors unlikely to recover to pre lock down levels. Those who relied on the insurance companies to bail them out as their clients went bust or refused to pay will be disappointed. And those factoring their invoices likewise will have seen this model of payment founder on the coronavirus rocks.

Newspapers have taken a further knock to their circulations with publishers increasingly putting up paywalls on their news websites to up the income. Newsquest has announced all its titles will be monetised this way as a result of coronavirus as the print product continues its decline while 20 weekly papers have suspended publication for the duration of the crisis – whether they reopen is open to question. However with time on their hands the publice have taken to reading books with an increase in sales with fantasy and educational literature doing particularly well.

With pubs and restaurants likely to be the last to reopen sadly the British public have got used to entertaining at home meaning many establishments will have died. The dark kitchen industry is one success story with meals delivered to householders a cheaper alternative to dining out, and deliveries in particular from Amazon but increasingly retail stores who have switched to online like Cath Kidston are increasingly the future.

Home working has become the norm for many firms so expect some companies to cut their losses and give notice to expensive rented suites in fashionable locations with a smaller hub and the staff working from home. Together with retailers deserting the high street there could be a book in converting more redundant offices and shops to flats and apartments. More work for builders, fitters and associated trades along with sign-makers and estate agents.

Firms specialising in working out why people buy certain things online and from particulare websites are on the increase along with one slightly unexpected business growth: in second hand cars. Not the traditional site by the main road with rows of ex-company cars for sale but an online service where you key in the specifications you want and the car is brought to your door for you to take delivery. Cazoo raised £100m last week to expand its operation. Arthur Daley eat your heart out.

They say every economic downturn has an upside. New business models emerge as older industries die off. But the good news is if your business comes out of this pandemic intact and profitable then you have a bright future as competition will be less and prices will be higher.

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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The Business Survivor’s Guide to the coronavirus crisis

How to get your business through the Covid-19 crisis

Helen Thomas on BBC1’s Newsnight programme interviewed a number of businesses including hairdressing salon owner Robert Eaton from Barnsley who said he expected a surge of business when the lock down ended. Longer hours and a seven day week were options he said, but for many in business the end of the lock down could see a much lower level of business than before March 23rd when the nightmare began. 

The Government’s help for businesses has been criticised for generally helping larger and long established companies rather than start-ups, freelancers and one man outfits. There is help for many and so they are worth checking out although don’t hold your breath that it is a panacea to your financial problems.

Away from what’s on offer from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak businesses have been telling ICSM credit some of the provisions they’ve put into practice.

Hibernation

If you have an industrial unit and orders literally stopped on March 24th, many firms completed any outstanding work in March, furloughed the staff and then sent everyone home, closed the doors, switched off the electricity and redirect links to the owner’s home on their phones and work emails. Of course not all businesses have been able to furlough staff so many simply laid their staff off. Not a pleasant thing to do but together with closing the business it meant overheads were slashed.

With just a handful or fewer members of staff working from home overdue accounts can be chased up, long forgotten paperwork addressed and customer data updated. It is a chance to do all those tasks that never get done.

Chase overdue invoices (with free help fromICSM Credit)

Some firms have publically announced they will not pay any invoices until they can reopen. However their protestations are not always what they seem. All will be paying some invoices so make sure you chase down those outstanding invoices however old they are and whatever the excuses given for non-payment. ICSM Credit has a free temporary membership with free legal letters which can be downloaded and sent online to debtors – and the letters are bringing in large amounts of cash during to crisis. Despite the lock down the courts are open so if clients won’t pay up or refuse to negotiate a payment plan then ICSM Credit’s debt collection department is highly effective with most overdue monies paid before court action takes place. Remember, the louder you shout the more likely you will get paid.

Skeleton operation

If orders are still coming in albeit at a fraction of previous levels then some firms are processing them with just a couple or so staff doing all the tasks themselves. From answering the phones to boxing up and dispatching orders it means the business ticks over while everyone else is dismissed, furloughed or working from home. Some members of ICSM Credit said they’ve shut down some of their offices and outlying buildings in order to save on overheads but are officially open.

Shorter working hours

Some firms have not furloughed staff but rather put them on short term working or fewer hours. Most contracts will have a clause allowing for this – especially for businesses affected by seasonal fluctuations. For smaller businesses that can keep ticking over such as take-aways, couriers and groceries this is an option and is a model for survival as the enterprise is only compromised to an extent.

Voluntary liquidation

There’s evidence that some businesses have made the decision to cease trading due to the crisis either bringing forward a planned members voluntary liquidation to wind up the enterprise or because the owner sees no future after the lock down. It is the route taken by a lot of companies going by the numbers listed every day at Companies House. If you can pay off all your debts, sell off the assets, complete your accounts and apply to Companies House to be struck off then there’s no reason why you can’t retire or start a different venture in the future. What you can’t do is cynically wind up the company, transfer all the assets into a new but identical business, dump the debt by declaring insolvency and do a phoenix when the lock down ends. You could face charges of fraud if you do.

Staff work from home

Lots of firms who operate from offices and whose only assets are lap tops and mobile phones this is an attractive option as if work flow continues as normal then there will be little difference. If the offices are rented on short term contracts then if you hand in your notice to the landlord now then apart from the saving you may get a much lower rent when things get back to normal apart from savings on coffee, milk, electricity and toner cartridges.

One aspect of home working is to double check you have insurance cover for staff working in their own homes. And then there are company laptops, phones, or are they are using their own? And if there’s an IT problem how to do resolve it (apart from switching your computer off and on) when your IT department maybe in lock down as well.

You working from home

If you have children or are living in a shared house with lots of family members, pets or lodgers then it can be a problem without a separate office or spare room. The daily distractions can interrupt the work flow although there’s no commuting which frees up more time for work or to be with the family. One issue is whether your internet is up to the job of conducting online meetings via Zoom and other apps.

Re-evaluate

Whatever the state of your business, with the current lock down take the chance to re-evaluate your business model. Do you still have a focus or has the economic situation changed your world? Are there areas which are profitable which you don’t exploit enough? How profitable are some of your customers and would it make sense to drop some of them if they consume too much time and resources? Go through your accounts and identify items that you don’t need to make a saving. Is that extra company car required – or that company gym membership worth it? And do you have too much stock? Treat the down time as an opportunity to sort out long held concerns which you can now address so that you are ready when the lock down ends.

Pre-selling for cash up front

Some businesses are offering discounts for future work for upfront payments during the crisis. Pre-selling is essentially asking your regular customers to help support your business during the crisis and it can work in some cases.

Diversification

Some businesses have re-invented themselves during the crisis by using what they already have. Pubs and restaurants have rebranded themselves as take-aways, cafes and eateries have turned themselves into grocery stores while manufacturers have switched to producing PPE for the NHS. If you have a fleet of vans used for instance to deliver print then there’s no reason to market yourself as a courier company. With a little imagination diversification is an option which could see you through the crisis.

Government help: Banks and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBIL) is aimed to give businesses access to bank loans. The government provides lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan but the borrower remains 100% liable for the debt. CBILS is operated by the British Business Bank and associated lenders. However feedback so far shows that many banks try to push applicants towards high interest loans claiming they are too risky and have been known to ask for security such as property. Plus there’s a back log so don’t expect an instant answer. The main problem businesses have found is the viability criteria with banks able to refuse businesses which are clearly viable. Hence the low take up so far.

Government help: Sick pay

Small and medium-sized businesses can reclaim a refund on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees affected by coronavirus. The government said it ‘will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible’. It covers up to two weeks’ SSP per employee who has been off work because of the virus and is for employers of less than 250 workers.

Government help: Furloughing

All UK employers will be able to access grants to cover some of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off through furloughing. HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Again to furlough staff requires employers to jump through several hoops

Government help: Benefits for the self-employed

To qualify for Universal Credit the self-employed with trading profits of up to £50,000 a year can get up to £2,500 a month to help cover coronavirus losses. They must have submitted their self-assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019, to have traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020 and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021. You must also show you have lost trading profits due to coronavirus. But don’t hold your breath as payments are unlikely to be made until June at the earliest.

Government help: Business rates relief

To help High Street businesses in England, all retail, leisure and hospitality business will have no business rates in 2020-21. Contact your local council or unitary authority for details.

Government help: Grants for business rates paying businesses

The government offers a £10,000 grant to retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value under £15,000. Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000 can access a £25,000 grant. Again feedback from ICSM Credit members suggests there is a lot of form filling involved and long delays before any confirmation.

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Latest company collapses: Virgin Australia, Le Pain Quotidian and Debenhams Ireland (but Norton Motorcycles have been rescued)

When Richard Branson pleaded with the British Government this week for a £500m loan to bail out Virgin Atlantic he was roundly slammed as a millionaire pleading poverty.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of his case, it shows how the coronavirus crisis can bring down even the most high profile successful companies. Let alone the one man printing outfit or the self-employed taxi driver. Virgin Atlantic could follow the likes of Flybe and Virgin Australia into administration while Norwegian Air is on the brink after four subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy this weekend.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said the numbers of firms going to the wall were at levels he hadn’t seen in 40 years in business. He said: “Everyone has heard of the Carluccio’s and Laura Ashleys of this world but there are scores of lesser known printers, sign-makers, pubs, hotels and retailers going bust every day. The Government’s rescue packages have benefitted some but the feedback ICSM Credit gets is there’s a large number of SMEs who fail to qualify for loans on ‘viability’ grounds. It is physically impossible to carry out the amount of rescues that Rishi Sunak has promised in such a short time. In the meantime it’s every man for himself.”

Virgin Australia has gone bust this week while the Belgium café chain Le Pain Quotidian with dozens of outlets in the UK has called in the administrators. Debenhams staggers from one crisis to another but the owners have liquidated the Irish branch of the department store while closing more outlets in England.

Today’s page of Companies House shows yet more firms in administration

“Every one of these companies,” said Ian Carrotte, “owe huge amounts of cash to their suppliers. We’ve seen from the likes of Jamie Oliver’s Italian the list of creditors is long. From the window cleaner to the paper merchant, there are thousands of businesses left with unpaid invoices due to firms finding it simpler to enter administration. Yes it is good that some manage to trade their way out of administration or find a buyer like Norton Motorcycles have but these are often a chance to dump the debts and phoenix.”

On just one day last week around 150 companies ceased trading or were wound up according to Companies House. Ian Carrotte said nobody can be immune to what is happening which is why firms that have outstanding unpaid invoices should contact ICSM Credit to get free help in tracking down their debtors and getting paid before it is too late.

Norton Motorcycles created by James Lansdowne Norton in Birmingham in 1898 has been bought out of administration for £16m cash by TVS Motor Company in India. Finally some good news to end on.

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk
 ReturnPosted by Harry Mottram on 20th Apr 2020 15:15:30Tel 0844 854 1850 ___ Fax 01454 327 355Privacy Policy   © ICSM 2020 All Rights Reserved

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AGENDA WEST BUSINESS NEWS: What a joke: ‘I tried to get a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan’

By April 14, only 6,020 of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans had been granted out of more than 300,000 applications.

“The system is not coping,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit. “As an exercise I applied for one with Nat West and plucked the figure of £20,000 out of the air as I don’t need one. I went online and completed the details for the interest free 12 month loan with a £150 completion fee at the end. All fine so far but that was two weeks ago. I’ve chased it up and so far there’s no communication, no paperwork sent and nothing to sign. It’s a joke. Businesses need cash fast as many are teetering on the brink of collapse.”

His experience is reflected across all industries and across all parts of the country as CEOs and finance directors bang their heads against a brick wall in frustration at the delays. David Price writing in Construction News said he has spoken at length to firms from across the industry’s supply chain. He reported: “The average contractor has enough cash to last around six to eight weeks while projects are stopped. Beyond that, the viability of businesses is seriously in doubt. Help in the form of £330bn-worth of government-backed financing promised by chancellor Rishi Sunak in the middle of March is not flowing fast enough. Contractors big and small are being thwarted by a mix of banks’ inability to process the tsunami of applications and lenders unwilling to lend. The industry has just weeks to somehow get the cash flowing again. But how that happens in an economy paralysed by the coronavirus pandemic is worryingly unclear.”

One million in trouble

Everywhere you look it is the same story. Andy Verity of the BBC reported last week: “Nearly a fifth of all small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are unlikely to get the cash they need to survive the next four weeks, in spite of unprecedented government support. That’s according to research from a network of accountants which suggests between 800,000 and a million firms nationwide may soon have to close. Many firms have told the BBC that banks have refused them emergency loans.”

Meanwhile Ian Carrotte is still waiting for an answer and details of the loan he applied for despite not needing it. He said: “Members of ICSM Credit have told us that it’s one thing to apply and another one to actually get the cash in your account to pay overheads and wages. I accept these are unusual times but when the chancellor set up the loans and grants scheme as a former banker he would have known the system would not cope. Businesses must chase up money owed to them as that is their best form of cash flow.”

That idea has been taken up by scores of ICSM Credit members who have either used the credit group’s free legal letters or their debt collection service headed by Paul Carrotte. He said that contrary to popular opinion firms are paying invoices once the right sort of pressure is applied.

“We’ve had a lot of success for clients during the coronavirus crisis so far,” he said, “debtors are generally willing to pay smaller invoices less than £10,000 as despite everything they do have some cash available. Nobody I’ve spoken to has been able to access one of the government bank loans so getting paid for work you’ve done is the best way to keep afloat.”

Courts are open

Banks and insurance companies he said have been telling customers that the courts and legal systems are closed which is untrue.

“Generally business is continuing albeit at a reduced level,” he continued, “with most firms willing to pay invoices but when it comes to large debts I say to clients you need to be open to payment plans. Debtors will nearly always agree to these but it comes down to negotiation. Payment plans can have reviews built into them every so many weeks so that if things pick up the payments can increase and it is always better to have some cash coming in as well as keeping a business relationship intact.”

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST BUSINESS NEWS: Covid 19: Frustration, delays and disappointment as firms denied emergency funding

Business groups say banks are too slow in processing emergency loans during crisis

The British Chamber of Commerce have urged the Government to speed up the way finance is being processed through the banks for businesses trying to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Hannah Essex of the Chamber said: ““Despite swift and unprecedented support from the government, many firms continue to face a cliff-edge scenario. Cashflow remains a particularly urgent concern for many businesses. The BCC’s Coronavirus Impact Tracker data suggests just over a third of firms have only three months cash in reserve or less.”

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been widely criticised as has the furlough scheme with two thirds of Chamber members still awaiting promised funds as payday approaches. Despite the huge amount of funds made available to the banks to loan businesses the Chamber found only 2% had so far been successful with only 15% having managed to secure a grant for small businesses. The firms who said they were unsuccessful said they were told they did not meet the criteria while those who applied for a CBIL and were denied said they were told their business was not viable.

One in ten small firms are planning to close leaving millions out of work this summer as the effects of the crisis become clear. At the start of the crisis last month Rishi Sunak announced the Treasury scheme intended to help small businesses mitigate the impact of the lockdown with emergency loans but this week UK Finance admitted only 28,460 firms have been allowed to formally apply despite 300,000 inquiries with £1.1bn paid out from the headline figure of £30bn package of loans, grants and other financial measures available.

German, France and Spain

On the Continent France has helped 150,000 firms with £19.2bn, while Spanish banks have issued £4.1bn of state-backed loans to 48,542 companies and Germany has overseen 9,368 loans to businesses totalling £4billion. The Berlin Government said all requests for £2.6m or less are approved instantly, while those up to £8.7m are fast-tracked in less than a week.

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Many members tell us it’s difficult to get to the formal application stage and banks are still slow to respond.”

Ian Carrotte

Thousands of businesses have given the media examples of how they have been turned down either for a loan or a grant. The various stories led Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit to carry out an experiment and apply for a CBILS himself as an academic exercise as the business doesn’t need one. Although the application with one bank was successful the bank requested his home as security. A second bank refused the application on the grounds of viability.

“Banks are behaving in a cynical way,” he said, “because when a firm applies for one of these loans they push them towards a normal commercial loan with interest rates of nearly 20%.”

He said almost all firms have credit with their debtors and they need to use the down time to chase up their overdue invoices. ICSM Credit he said has a system of free online legal letters which members are using to bring in cash which is theirs.

“Free legal letters are still highly effective,” he said, “they secure a success rate of 87% even during this crisis and for the few that don’t work our debt collection service is available. The legal route continues unaffected by the lock down so don’t sit and wait for July – act now.”

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST BUSINESS NEWS: Concerns mount over winding-up petitions during coronavirus crisis

Picture ITV

Call to delay winding-up petitions as companies crash during coronavirus crisis

Retailers Warehouse and Oasis are the latest big names to enter administration as the lock down continues to cause huge falls in retail sales.

And with no end in sight retailers and many other sectors are finding banks and lenders are calling in their loans while landlords are refusing to allow them a rent holiday. The result is a rise in the numbers calling it a day and shutting up shop for good as creditors apply for winding up petitions in the belief their clients are insolvent.

London law firm RPS has called for a temporary halt to winding-up petitions to give businesses a breathing space. Drapers online have reported that already there has been 52 petitions to wind-up retailers in the capital during the crisis.

Grace Whelan for the publication reported this week: “RPC is now calling for a moratorium on these petitions. The move would give retailers ‘a much-needed buffer to help them stretch payment deadlines’ as they seek to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. However, it would also be dangerous for creditors, including suppliers, who could be left even further out of pocket. 

Finella Fogarty of RPC, said: “Even if the winding-up petitions aren’t processed, they scare off [other] suppliers and possible funders and can have damaging effects on businesses.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said there was a problem of suppliers being left high and dry when a firm entered administration. He said: “If like Debenhams at the moment the company can continue to trade during administration then some suppliers will be able to recover some of their losses. The worst case is a company simply being liquidated immediately. Companies can and do trade their way back into solvency during administration. During this lock down period there needs to be flexibility as many companies have moth-balled themselves until June or July but they must still keep paying suppliers or communicating with them and paying something to retain their relationship.”

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Printing presses fall silent as industry is hit by the Covid 19 shut down

A trade body representing the UK print industry has published the results of its survey of members during the first days of the coronavirus crisis and its effect on business.

The results are shocking with 74% of respondents reporting a ‘considerable downturn’ while the average number of orders was down 65% in the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) report.

BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold said : “It is bleak and it reflects the fact that the economy has been shut down and the sectors that have been instructed to close represent a significant part of the [print] client base.”

Charles Jarrold

Reporting for the trade magazine Print Week Jo Francis wrote: “Some parts of the printing industry, such as food and pharma packaging and those supplying the NHS and public services, remain as busy or busier than usual. But the government-mandated shutdown of general retailers, pubs, restaurants, leisure facilities and the property market has had a huge impact on printers. A staggering 74% of respondents to the survey reported a ‘considerable downturn’ in order levels, while the average change in order levels from the usual monthly level was down 65%. One print boss told Printweek that his company’s sales were currently running at just 15% of normal levels.”

The BPIF said the respondents represented sales of £3.1bn and more than 22,000 employees took part. The survey was carried out jointly with stationery and office supplies federation Boss, and ran from 23 March to 6 April.

Ian Carrotte

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said the group had many members involved in the printing industry and the survey accurately reflected the feedback he had received. He said: “The industry has been contracting for several years with several big names only just surviving so this crisis is set to damage printers along with many of their customers. Less than 10% of firms who have applied for the Government’s Coronavirus Interruption loans have been successful with the banks turning away perfectly sound businesses. What the printing industry needs is more targeted help and lots of Government coronavirus information campaigns using print rather than social media as there are thousands of jobs at risk.”

The BPIF Summary

Over one-third (36%) of respondents have experienced considerable disruption to their supply chain as a result of Coronavirus.

40% are confident (‘very’ or ‘somewhat’) that supply chains will be maintained. However, comments allude that supply chain security is more at risk as staff shortages increase and a dichotomy between firms remaining operational and others shutting down stresses supply chains.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) or respondents have reported a ‘considerable downturn’ in order levels. The average change in order levels, from the expected monthly level, was -65%.

40% of firms are ‘extremely concerned’ about the short-term* survival of their clients’ businesses (*next three months).

On average 27% of responding firms’ business is supporting critical services (in the food, pharmaceutical, health & social care, education, public services and local government sectors).

Just over one-third of respondents (34%) are ‘extremely concerned’ about the short-term survival of their own business. Slightly more, 38% are ‘extremely concerned’ about long-term* survival (*beyond six months).

Nearly one-quarter (23%) have reported a significant increase in bad debt exposure. Furthermore, 71% have experienced debtors withholding payment due to the uncertainty.

Over three-quarters (77%) require some degree of emergency assistance to maintain cashflow, cover costs and survive – 38% stated that they require this assistance either ‘immediately’ or ‘in the next week or two’.

Over one-quarter (27%) have already made redundancies – for these companies the level of redundancies averaged at 41% of the workforce.

Further redundancies are expected (18% ‘definitely’, 22% ‘probably’ and 29% ‘maybe’) in the short-term. The average expected level of redundancies is 37% of the workforce.

A majority of companies have implemented Covid-19 prevention measures, the most common being social distancing (91%), working from home (86%), banning visitors (74%), banning off-site meetings (69%) and banning business travel (65%).

Regarding ratings of the Government’s response – the extensiveness and timeliness of the Government’s support measures have received positive ratings, on balance. However, access to this support has received a negative rating. 15% selecting ‘very poor’ and 26% ‘poor’ clearly outweighs the 20% selecting ‘good’ and 2% ‘very good’.

The most commonly suggested additional support from Government is extended grant support and business rates relief (78%) and a deferment of VAT, PAYE and NIC payments (77%).

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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AGENDA WEST Business News: Coronavirus kills off the Jewish Chronicle newspaper founded in 1841 as the print industry takes a massive hit from the crisis

With a declining circulation and restrictions on distribution and sales due to the coronavirus outbreak one of the oldest print titles in the UK is set to fold.

In a statement on its website the Jewish Chronicle’s editor Richard Ferrer announced: “With great sadness, the Board of the Jewish Chronicle has taken the decision to seek a creditors voluntary liquidation of Jewish Chronicle Newspapers Ltd. Despite the heroic efforts of the editorial and production team at the newspaper, it has become clear that the Jewish Chronicle will not be able to survive the impact of the current coronavirus epidemic in its current form.”

Founded in 1841 and published every Friday the paper is is expected to be liquidated this month. The Kessler Foundation who own the Jewish Chronicle say they are seeking a future for the publication while meanwhile it will continue to be published for another fortnight and the website will be updated as usual.

It is unclear what the situation is with creditors as the newspaper said it had simply run out of money. Redundancies are taking place amongst the 55 staff and it remains to be seen if a buyer can be found or if the website will continue on its own. The liquidation includes the free newspaper the Jewish News which has run for 23 years and earlier this year was thought to be about to merge with the Chronicle although the deal didn’t come about.

The coronavirus crisis is taking a heavy toll on the newspaper industry as distribution and the inability of reporters to get out and about or to meet contacts have been curtailed. Councils and many public meetings have stopped meaning journalists are unable to report on what is happening or to question officials from the police to MPs. Even parliament is closed resulting in a lack of news other than the usual statements produced by various communication departments.

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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An inconvenient truth about the coronavirus crisis: companies aren’t paying their invoices – but ICSM Credit has a free solution

The chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak means well but the truth is UK businesses are in a crisis not seen since Black Friday in 1989. And coronavirus crisis is likely to be worse as it is global.

“Since business fell off a cliff on March 23rd when the lockdown began,” said Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit, “Members of our credit circle have been contacting us saying their customers have stopped paying their invoices. They send out emails saying they’ve shut down during the lockdown, won’t answer the phone or respond to emails. It’s destroying really good businesses and solid business relationships.”

On March 25th, JD Wetherspoons contacted its suppliers by email to announce it would not be paying them until its pubs were reopened as it also applied to furlough its 43,000 staff. Despite the outcry by the unions, its suppliers, CAMRA, a cross party group of 95 MPs and even Piers Morgan of ITV’s Good Morning the pub chain is not alone in the practice.

Bland emails claiming to support the NHS – but it’s false

“We’ve had members emailing us with statements from their customers saying the same thing,” said Paul Carrotte of ICSM Debt Collection. “They get a bland email saying they are following the Government’s guide lines on coronavirus by closing down until the crisis ends, protecting the NHS and saving lives and would you believe it – not paying any invoices. It beggars belief as they also say they will not be answering emails or phone calls. There’s no attempt at negotiation or an explanation. Instead they are using the lockdown to get an extra 90 days of credit.”

ICSM Credit’s free offer of help

Ian Carrotte said the practice of not paying invoices was self-defeating as firms engaged in the practice would also not get paid.

“We are offering all firms a free temporary legal letter membership at ICSM Credit,” he said, “as a way of helping to unlock the problem. Our legal letters have a success rate of around 87% within 14 days. Companies pay those who shout the loudest and a legal letter shouts louder than a gentle reminder. If that doesn’t work our debt collection department have one of the best success rates in the UK in getting our member’s their money – even in times like these.”

The fashion stores New Look, Oasis and Warehouse, and the car manufacturer Nissan, are amongst a growing list of firms who have effectively stopped paying suppliers during the emergency. Ian Carrotte said it was a mistake as it sours relationships and potentially forces suppliers out of business. He said the best thing to do if payment is a problem is to be honest.

“Be upfront with your supplier. Give them a clear explanation of your situation, and give them a time frame when you can pay them (if that’s likely). They will thank you for the clear communication, and it will preserve the relationship when things improve,” he said. “As for those chasing payment and not getting anywhere call us as ICSM and we’ll set up a temporary free account and see if our legal letters do the trick. The worst thing is to do nothing as June is a long way away.”

Federation of Small Business agrees

Mike Cherry, National Chairman, Federation of Small Business said: “The power to help overcome the sudden loss of cash, brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, lies with other businesses and their ability to speed up payments to keep the cash flowing. I cannot think of a more desperate time when this business-to-business support has been needed more than ever. In the face of this national emergency we are seeing some businesses stepping up to keep their suppliers cash flow healthy and in business. We need more to do the same.”

The Small Business Commissioner set up by Government under the Enterprise Act 2016 to tackle late payment said that in normal times a third of payments to small businesses are late. The commissioner said that if small businesses were paid on time, this could boost the economy by an estimated £2.5 billion annually. But during the present crisis late payment could destroy the economy and return the nation to the situation in 1989 when Black Friday heralded a four year long recession.

How they work: FREE Legal Letters with ICSM Credit

Contact ICSM Credit by phone or email and ask for a free temporary membership to use their FREE legal letters. Once your account is set up follow the online instructions on how to complete a legal letter – it’s easy and quick – and email to your debtor. If they fail to pay then there is the option of using ICSM Credit’s highly effective debt collection service.

Checkout our latest news video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJHjslhxoz8

How to send a legal letter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIycysoFhYo

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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ICSM Credit Video News: emergency coronavirus special bulletin – when to use a debt collector, are banks cashing in on struggling firms and companies using the crisis to say they can’t pay their suppliers

 A special video news bulletin on the coronavirus emergency from ICSM Credit, a member of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce.

To see the video click here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOYcKjSBLJM

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

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ICSM Credit News: emergency coronavirus debt crisis special bulletin

With the economy falling off a cliff I’m writing to you with the knowledge that many of you will be working from home and will be extremely worried about your business.

The overheads continue while those promises from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak may well not live up to the headline billing they were originally given. Red tape, delays and unhelpful banks mean few firms can utilise the loans available and furloughing staff puts many a CEO in a quandary as there appears no Government exit strategy to the lock down.

With more than 1,000 limited companies going to the wall every week (ref: Insolvency Service) it’s vital to chase down the money that you are owed including invoices however small that date back many months.

Act now:
Use your time to go through your ledger and urgently draw up a list of overdue accounts.
Use ICSM Credit’s FREE legal letters which have an 87% success rate within 14 days.
Use ICSM Credit’s Debt Collection Department to get the cash that should be in your bank.


According to Business Matters Magazine, added up the average UK SME has a monthly cash flow of £108,000 with £25,000 overdue at any one time. With business for many literally stopping on March 23 when the lock down started it means that most firms and small businesses have tens of thousands of outstanding unpaid invoices.

Anecdotally ICSM Credit have heard cash rich companies claiming the coronavirus crisis means they cannot settle accounts. Don’t take that as an answer as it’s just an excuse. Of course there are genuine hardship cases but those should be tackled diplomatically with a payment plan. In short with the lock down in place, ensuring you get paid is your number one priority – and as a member of ICSM Credit we will help you all the way.

Don’t hesitate to call or email ICSM Credit and make sure those outstanding invoices are paid during this critical period.

Best wishes
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

ICSM Credit, the Exchange, Express Park, Bristol Road, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 4RR

Not a member? Join for less than a tank of diesel and protect yourself form late payers.

For a video on how to send a FREE LEGAL LETTER visit: https://youtu.be/AIycysoFhYo

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Companies permitted to trade while insolvent during coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus: company rule changes protect firms trading while technically insolvent

As companies lose footfall, orders and customers and see their cash flow disappear, the Government’s business secretary Alok Sharma has announced plans to protect firms who are technically insolvent during the coronavirus crisis.

The wrongful trading law is to be suspended so as to protect directors who pay staff and suppliers while their firm has a drastically reduced income or indeed no income at all. The business secretary announced he will make changes to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading, giving them breathing space that could help them avoid insolvency.

This will also include enabling companies to continue buying supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while attempting a rescue, and temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.

Alok Sharma said: “The government is doing everything in its power to save lives and protect livelihoods during these unprecedented times. Applying a common-sense approach to regulation will ensure products are safe and reach the market without any unnecessary delay, getting vital protective equipment such as face masks to frontline staff as quickly as possible.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “The measures are designed to keep businesses afloat during the crisis when they don’t in reality have any business. Department stores, shopping centres, chain stores and many manufacturers have been left high and dry and in normal circumstances would seek administration. With no end date to the crisis uncertainty has infected British business from top to bottom. The changes will help many firms survive the emergency.”

The business minister said the wrongful trading law would be suspended to protect directors during the pandemic. The move will allow directors of companies to pay staff and suppliers even if there are fears the company could become insolvent.

For the British Chamber of Commerce Suren Thiru said: “Companies that were viable before the outbreak must be supported to ensure they can help power the recovery when the immediate crisis is over. Cashflow remains an urgent concern for many businesses, so it’s vital that government support packages reach businesses and people on the ground as soon as possible.”

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 on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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COMMENT: if the Government effectively takes away your customers then of course your business is not viable – the Covid-19 madness continues

The insanity of the UK Government’s Covid-19 policy took another crazy twist this week. First the Prime Minister announced a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and cut the numbers for social gatherings even further and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak replaced the furlough scheme with the Job Support Scheme (JSS).

The JSS announcement is a crushing disappointment when compared to the more business friendly policies put in place in Germany and France. Unfortunately the chancellor also insisted he couldn’t save every job saying the scheme was targeted at saving ‘viable’ jobs.

As many in business have said since if you take away all the customers then your business is not viable. And that is what this Government is doing to huge sectors of industry which is having a massive knock-on effect to the rest of the economy and the health and welfare of the general public.

I’ve written before about how the Government have got it wrong in its Covid-19 strategy – but this latest turn is madness. At the end of October as the furlough scheme ends many firms will cease trading or will only survive by making many of their staff redundant. Some have called it a cliff edge as they will collapse if they cannot trade as normal. Others are zombie businesses who have clung onto life with the furlough scheme but were not viable before the pandemic and so will perish. Even the chancellor suggested that unemployment will rise to the levels on the 1980s. Frankly if we got away with only two million unemployed that would be a relief. The received wisdom in Whitehall, business and the trade unions is that it will be far higher than that.

The latest Covid-19 rules further restrict the hospitality industry and put the dampers on retail with more mask wearing instructions. Both sectors are being emasculated by a Conservative Government that has become estranged from business. With Dominic Cummings as an advisor and the joint doomsters in Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance the PM has in effect told everyone to curl up in a ball and stay at home. Except of course, for the essential workers, who he relies on in hospital, to deliver his groceries or to ferry him around. If they can work so can everyone else. Those who are vulnerable to the disease can continue by taking all the precautions to keep themselves free of infection. And for hospitals and care homes sensible procedures should remain in place.

What is needed is a route map out of this crisis with the essential element being we have to live with the virus like we do with every other form of disease. Covid-19 is not the biggest killer – but it is killing the economy. And so far that’s what the Government is doing.

There is no need for millions of workers to stay at home on various tax-payer funded schemes. Firms don’t want more loans as they will only have to pay them back. The JSS is not what it is hyped up to be as the mathematics do not work for many businesses. And the banning of gatherings for weddings, football matches, theatrical productions and music venues is unnecessary. All could be open with a few precautions in place – something which will save more businesses than any furlough scheme can achieve.

Firstly the Government should stop all the negative rhetoric such as cancelling Christmas, and don’t use public transport, or you must work from home. Secondly end the restrictions on social gatherings and reduce most of the rules for retailing and pubs and restaurants. Reopen libraries, museums and parks and end the introduction of fines for rule breakers.

Anecdotally the British public are beginning to give up on the rules. It’s unfair on the police to break up wedding receptions, ban groups of teenagers from hanging out and stopping cars in Wales and Scotland to check if the drivers are taking unnecessary journeys. If the various UK Governments haven’t realised that then £10,000 fines and troops on the street to prevent the spread of Covid-19 won’t work. We just have to live with the virus as it doesn’t stop spreading at 10pm.

Harry Mottram

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End the Rule of Six now and all the other restrictions and come to terms with the fact that like any other disease we must live with Covid-19

In December a libertarian business-friendly Government was elected in the UK with a mandate to get Brexit done and rebalance the economy with massive investments in infrastructure. Ten months later we have the most out of touch authoritarian and incompetent administration since the 1930s.

The reason for the total shambles we are now in is entirely due to their failure to tackle the rise in Covid-19 infections earlier this year and their desperate attempts to cover their tracks by totally over reacting to a potential increase in the virus this winter. They have destroyed the economy, put millions out of work, increased national debt by billions and ruined thousands of perfectly good businesses.

It matters because without a vibrant economy there are no jobs, no investment and no increase in tax revenue which funds all the electoral promises.

The Rule of Six is the latest ridiculous dictate from number ten Downing Street. Grouse shooting and air travel are OK but for two families to mingle outside the school gates means immediate arrest. A student having a party in their hall of residents can be fined £10,000, and a shopkeeper who fails to ensure Covid-19 precautions are met can be jailed. It’s utter madness and it is destroying the British economy faster than a Marxist led Government could dream of. And I’ve not even mentioned Brexit and the trade deal which is still to be sorted in a matter of weeks.

Pic: The Guardian

People have become compliant and accepting of a long list of regulations that have destroyed civil liberties made even more difficult to understand as they vary from week to week, town to town and across the borders of the four constituent nations. They are frightened to go back to work, to go shopping or even leave their homes. Shopping has become an unpleasant and tricky operation along with going to the pub or cinema.

The effects are felt across all sectors of industry and commerce. Trains are half full in the rush hour, buses often empty and offices are gathering dust and spiders webs. There is no need for any of this as the risk to 99% of the population is miniscule. In 1957 and 1968 there were flu pandemics which killed millions around the world and tens of thousands in the UK. No businesses were shut, schools stayed open and the economy continued as normal. The Government did not stoke the flames of public panic with misleading graphs, graphics and emergency press conferences lapped up by the media. In short the epidemics were not politicised.

Offices lie empty as people stay away

If the Government were to say tomorrow it is all over so go back to work as there’s no need for masks or social distancing or Perspex screens in shops and pubs there would be little change. People have been so conditioned it would take months to break their new found habits. Plus those considered to be at risk such as the elderly and obese are frightened. The fact they are more likely to die from ordinary winter flu, heart disease or even a road accident won’t convince them to change their habits.

Sweden has adopted a more reasoned appoach to the crisis. Pic: The Times

I’ve written before that we should have adopted the Swedish approach which has arguably been less authoritarian and more successful in protecting the economy. Their equivalent of the NHS publish the dangers of the disease and have issue advice about masks, hand washing and social distancing. We should allow the citizens to decide how to behave. No fines, no Covid marshals, no Rule of Six, no bans on parties, football matches or theatre shows. The public should decide for themselves on their own risks, behave like grown-ups and get on with life as usual.

We have become a nation of curtain twitchers Pic: The Daily Star

Instead the authorities are fuelling all the worst aspects of society from snitching on neighbours, reporting groups of teenagers to the police and imposing fines on people for not wearing a mask when they pop into a shop or take a bus ride. Where will it end? We look at Belarus, Russia, China and North Korea with a superior glaze in our eyes and yet little by little our own Government is increasing rules which are akin to those types of society and only a year ago would have seemed incredible.

Back to the economy. The one which works through making a profit. The one that employs most people in this country and one the government relies on for tax revenues. And there lies the issue if as expected unemployment reaches the levels of the 1970s, let alone the 1980s or even the 1930s. When people lose their jobs, they often lose their homes and their relationships and even their families. Their mental and physical health suffers and society in general takes a massive hit. The warnings from history should not be ignored. There is a strong link between unemployment and a rise in suicide rates and an increase in those suffering from depression.

Pic: Inflation, unemployment and national grievances led to the rise of Hitler

The last time the levels of business collapse took place and the numbers of unemployed rose into the millions on this scale was in the 1930s. It led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and global war. The only difference now is inflation is low, but if the global recession tripped into a depression and another banking crash then we really are in trouble. And the point is there is no need for the Government’s obsessions with Covid-19 rules.

Pic: The Guardian

The Office of National Statistics only this week released information for this summer showing more people are dying from flu and pneumonia than Covid 19. The numbers of people dying in hospitals and care homes is lower now than at this time last year – but here’s the catch – the levels of people dying at home has risen massively. The reasons are obvious. People are simply too frightened to see their doctor, go to hospital or for relatives to allow their aged parents to enter care homes. Again the fear factor stoked by the authorities has created a kind of national hysteria. End the Rule of Six now and all the other restrictions and come to terms with the fact that like any other disease we must live with it.

Harry Mottram

This article was written for the business credit intelligence group ICSM Credit who work to stop bad debts and alert members about late payers and dodgy companies.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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