ICSM Business News

ICSM Business News: universities in financial jeopardy with some likely to ‘break their banking covenants’ this year as suppliers, students and staff fear the worst

By Harry Mottram: Concerns have been raised by Bridgwater based ICSM about the possibility that several universities could go bust this year leaving their suppliers, students and staff high and dry. Ian Carrotte of ICSM – the business membership group dedicated to fighting bad debts and late payers with many members involved in supplying universities and colleges of further education – said the sector was sleepwalking into insolvency with one in four establishments in peril according to reports.

Writing for ITV News, journalist Shebab Khan said the higher education sector was in an ‘existential crisis’ with a quarter making huge losses. He reported before Christmas 2023 that: “Multiple universities could be forced to close if no action is taken, as one in four in England and Northern Ireland are currently making a loss, ITV News can reveal. Data seen by ITV News paints a bleak picture of the higher education sector, which experts have described as being in an ‘existential crisis’. One-quarter of universities are currently making a loss and total losses over the entire sector sits at a staggering £2 billion, a huge increase from the £200 million from the year before.”

Ian Carrotte said: “The reasons are many, but they essentially are due to a failure to follow the basics of any business: the bursars are not able to balance the books. Student numbers have fallen in some colleges, overheads have risen with energy bills rising, fees have remained static, money from national and local governments have been curtailed and they are not immune from the Cost of Living Crisis. With many universities having annual turn-overs of more than £100m and some close to a half a billion these are in reality massive businesses and yet they are not always run like one.”

He noted that many vice-chancellors had packages of around a quarter of a million pounds a year and yet presided over colleges running up huge debts while many of the senior management earned six figure salaries – which he felt was ‘out of kilter’ with reality.

Writing for the insolvency and corporate restructuring London firm Buchler Phillips James Bryan noted this week: “Brexit cut the number of EU students in half, as well as removing access to £800m a year in grants. Lower status universities face a significant drop in applications, resulting in job cuts and strikes, while some of the more prestigious are overrecruiting, increasing class sizes and stretching accommodation. Before the year is out, it is highly likely that some universities will break their banking covenants. Several are already in dire need of restructuring their borrowings to put them on a more sustainable footing. Sector regulators and the government have already indicated ‘no bail out’; any support will be limited to temporary cash flow issues, not tackling a more fundamental lack of demand.”

The Daily Telegraph reported this month that Coventry University has found a £85m black hole in its budget and that Sheffield Hallam University has invited its 1,700 academic staff members to apply for voluntary redundancy. The newspaper’s Melissa Lawford reported: “The University of Aberdeen is consulting on axing single honour degrees in modern languages because the income from these courses do not cover the staffing costs. In November, the University of Staffordshire announced redundancies that mean more than one in 20 staff will lose their jobs.”

Ian Carrotte said that without Government bail-outs there were few options. He said: “They need to slash overheads such as closing parts of their campus and courses, making staff cuts, recruiting more students – especially from overseas as they pay more in fees – or closing down or merging with other institutions. Nobody is going to come to their rescue. It does ask the question that the drive to get more students to go to university was advisable rather than championing further education colleges with their vocational courses which can have better outcomes in terms of jobs. My message as always to suppliers who provide IT services and computer systems, printed brochures and such things as building maintenance is to stick to your terms of credit and at the first sign of late or non payments to put them on stop.”

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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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ICSM Business Education News: shock as drama school Read College is set to close as more colleges struggle

By Harry Mottram: news that the famous drama school Read College is set to shut this summer has reminded the sector that education establishments can go bust. Every year colleges do go out of business in the UK although in recent years the numbers have increased as fewer students enrol.

Unlike state schools, colleges and universities are private institutions even though they are regulated and in many cases subsidised by the state. There are numerous small colleges in the UK and these are most at risk of falling into administration or simply closing with a long list of unpaid bills. In the past there have been examples of colleges shutting their doors having banked their students’ fees which are not refunded.

Read College made a statement saying they were ‘heartbroken’ but Ian Carrotte of ICSM said those words would be of little comfort if they left a long list of creditors out of pocket. The college follows the collapse of other drama schools including CPA Studios and the Merchant Taylors’ School and the The Academy of Live & Recorded Arts last year.

The news of the college’s closure means that it will join the likes of CPA Studios, which closed in 2018, and the MTA and ALRA, which both closed in 2022. 

Further Education Week reported today (Thursday, March 9, 2023) that St Mary’s College in Blackburn has gone bust owing around £8 million pounds. Barclays bank are in hock for nearly £3m while The Department for Education is owed £62,000.

The publications said: “The Catholic-run college, which had been open for almost 100 years, became financially unsustainable due to repeated years of falling student numbers, and has been propped up by emergency government funding since 2020. Accounting firm RSM UK has been appointed to handle the insolvency and published its first report on the process last month.

A “statement of affairs” revealed that the college owes £8.2 million to six creditors. The Local Government Pension Scheme is owed most of the debt – £5 million – while Barclays Bank is owed £2.8 million. The Department for Education is also one of the creditors, owed £62,000.

Hadlow College collapsed last year which led to claims of financial irregularities which led to investigations while another Further Education College went to the wall when Hadlow’s sister college West Kent and Ashford College hit the rocks with unpaid invoices hitting the £150 figure.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said colleges will have a huge range of creditors as they buy anything from printed brochures and prospectus’ plus books, computers, food and drink, and a hundred and one items needed to run a college. “There’s also the heating and energy costs,” he said, “as colleges have multiple rooms to service – like hotels – but if the numbers of students drop then their viability collapses. My advice is to be careful when supplying colleges as they will use the old line that they cannot fail. That is clearly not the case.”

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

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

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Pic: BBC

ICSM Insolvency News: they take the cash and go bust – a collapsed company backed by the PM’s wife Akshata Murty throws a spotlight on the millions of tax payers’ cash written off in Covid loans

By Harry Mottram: The business credit intelligence group ICSM has heard numerous accounts from its members that there’s a pattern of firms who took thousands of pounds in Covid support cash to then go bust when repayment is due.

Whether the practice is deliberate or accidental or just the way things happen in post-Covid Britain is a matter of debate. The media have reported story that casts light on the subject which involves the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty and her connection to a defunct furniture company.

An eye-watering £4.3 billion of Covid loans have been written-off due to fraud by the Government from the £73.8 billion dished out at the height of the Covid Crisis. Bounce back loans were up to £50,000, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) were available up to £5 million pounds a go for smaller firms with larger companies allowed to apply for up to £200 million, and finally Future Funds offered loans to companies in a variety of schemes.

Akshata Murty invested in The New Craftsmen furniture firm which went bust last year owing hundreds of thousands of pounds including the taxman around a quarter of a million pounds and a long list of creditors who were owed £75,437, and trade and consumer creditors who were due more than £412,000 according to reports in the media. The issue being The New Craftsmen furniture firm received a £300,000 taxpayer-funded loan when her husband Rishi Sunak was the Chancellor of the Exchequer and in charge of dishing out the cash.

Ian Carrotte has appealed to members of ICSM and the wider business community to contact him in confidence with any news of firms who have taken the Covid cash and then pulled the plug and walked away without having to pay it back. ICSM has seen a rise in phoenix companies – firms that close one day and having ensured their stories stack up reappear a few days afterwards with a near identical business often with the assets of the original company.

Doing a phoenix or going bust having taken any of the Covid grants or loans are of course not illegal but ICSM amongst many in British industry feels legislation needs to be tightened up. Because at the end of the day billions of pounds of tax payers money has been lost and a long list of creditors have not been paid.

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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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ICSM Printing Industry Insolvency News: decision day for Plymouth based outfit as it admits defeat and chooses liquidation following creditors’ meeting

By Harry Mottram: Pepper Communications in Plymouth has chosen to liquidate following a creditors’ voluntary liquidation today (Friday, February 10, 2023).

The trade publication Print Week reported that the CEO of the firm Jude Whitford had said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to address the unfortunate reality of our current situation and announce the liquidation of Pepper Communications Ltd effective immediately.”

He added: “At a meeting held this morning I, together with my colleague Adam Buck, were appointed joint liquidators by the creditors of Pepper Communications Ltd.”

He blamed the high cost of paper, hikes in energy prices and the need to repay Covid loans as some of the reasons for the collapse.

The assets at the firm include a Konica Minolta Bizhub 1250P printer and two Konica Minolta Bizhub PRO 6136P digital printers plus a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 press. With 50 jobs in doubt at the purpose-built Plymouth headquarters, Pepper Communications appears to be on the brink of collapse. The firm relocated to Plymouth in 1980 from Essex.

The firm employed more than 50 staff who are now out of a job – while creditors must wait so see if they will be paid.

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ICSM Sports Business News: shock as Worcester Rugby owner dumps the name, the creditors and the fans who are owed millions

By Harry Mottram: In a stunning interview with BBC Hereford & Worcester the owner of rugby’s Worcester Warriors Jim O’Toole said the Worcester Warriors Rugby Union Club is confined to history.

The plan had been to accept relegation to the second tier of rugby union’s pyramid in the Championship but Atlas Sports Tech said the conditions were too onerous as laid out by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Instead Warriors CEO Jim O’Toole and James Sandford of Atlas plan to sidestep that option and instead route link up with Stourbridge RFU who are in the fourth tier of the pyramid. If they can do a deal with Stourbridge then they would be free of any RFU restrictions and could be back in the Gallagher Premiership by 2026. That’s as may be.

Inexplicably for fans of Worcester the club would be reborn as Sixways Rugby – Sixways being the name of the ground in Worcester – which if the Rugby Football Union (RFU) agree to the deal it could mean the team would continue to play at the ground – possibly as a hybrid club in unison with Stourbridge.

Ian Carrotte of Somerset’s ICSM Sports Business that deals with issues of insolvency in the sector said it was not a done deal as Stourbridge and the RFU would have to agree to the plan – and then there were the fans.

He said: “If you look on social media the Worcester fans are incensed with the plan. Ticket holders are already owed millions of pounds, the suppliers are also left high and dry and there’s the small matter of HMRC’s two million quid in unpaid tax, and the £16 million pounds in Covid Sports Survival cash from the Government. When Wasps left North London for the Midlands they may have moved to a top stadium at Coventry they left behind a chunk of their support and a chunk of their cashflow. Fans like continuity.

“When London Welsh went bust they started again at the bottom – and have returned to their roots and are working their way back to the big time. Rangers football club in Glasgow went bust and had to start again in the lower leagues but their fans didn’t desert them. They soon gained successive promotions and are back at the top table. Teaming up with Stourbridge is high risk.”

Atlas Sports Tech is run by the former Warriors CEO Jim O’Toole and his colleague James Sandford. They had been in talks with the RFU but pulled out of negotiations citing the conditions were too onerous. According to media reports Atlas would prefer to build a relationship with Stourbridge using their fourth tier of the pyramid as a steppingstone to the Premiership – to be achieved by 2026. A tie up with Wasps who have also gone bust was ruled out.

BBC Hereford & Worcester’s Andrew Easton reported Atlas co-owner Jim O’Toole as saying: “We and the investors couldn’t accept them as they were too onerous. It would have given the RFU control over key decisions that we as a business will have to take. This decision will clearly upset and annoy a number of people. The sad fact of life is that the Worcester Warriors brand and the Worcester Warriors business is gone.

“We didn’t want to go down to the 10th tier as Worcester Warriors, so the name sadly will disappear. We are rebranding as Sixways Rugby. We’re starting afresh. We believe it is time for a new start. The church has closed down.

“We will invest the maximum we can within the RFU regulations to get the club through the leagues to get to the Championship by 2026. They’ll in effect become our first team in our journey to returning to top level rugby. They will play at Sixways from the start of next season. We’ll be sustainable, not reckless. The ultimate goal is to get back to the Premiership but the gut feeling is that it will be ring-fenced.”

It all remains in doubt as Stourbridge are based 23 miles away and are currently bottom of National League Division Two West and could be relegated.

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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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El Salvador made Bitcoin an official currency. Pic: Bit Coin News

ICSM Cryptocurrency Business News: from tulips to the South Sea Bubble, the dot.com boom and cryptocurrencies – beware of investment opportunities that turn out to be Ponzi schemes

By Harry Mottram: In 1637 investors in Dutch tulips experienced one of the worst market crashes of all time. The price of tulips had soared to incredible prices as investors deluded themselves they would become rich as a type of mass market hysteria took place pushing the price of the bulbs to insane levels. Until the speculators decide to sell and found nobody wanted to pay such high prices. The market collapsed back to the levels of what tulip bulbs were actually worth for gardeners and florists.

With cryptocurrency’s current woes in mind following another massive dip in values and the collapse of FTX the magazine Private Eye recalled the saga of the sardine tins. The anology goes that back in the mists of time there was a boom in the price of sardine tins. Investors quickly piled in to see the value of their tins increase to unprecedented levels. One buyer was so intrigued – was it a shortage or a new fashion for tinned food? He opened one of the tins and inside he discovered there were… er… sardines. The tins he was told were for buying and selling – not for opening.

The hype around cryptocurrencies has not been helped by celebrities and politicians bigging up the virtual currencies in a market that is unregulated. And that’s the key. We may have concerns about the behaviour of banks and financial institutions but they are regulated by Governments – as yet there is no international agreement on how to bring cryptocurrencies to book.

Rishi Sunak and former Chancellor Phil Hammond have all got into bed with the currency – either by endorsing it as in Rishi Sunak’s case or becoming the chairman of Copper cryptocurrency in the case of Phil Hammond. To give some context as to the dangers of thinking cryptocurrencies have the same reliability and stability of a currency just look what has happened in El Salvador where the Government adopted Bitcoin as legal currency and invested half of the Government’s cash in it. Bitcoin’s value is down by 75% in the last few months. Investment bubbles can make fools of us all – theree was the famous South Bubble in the 18th century and more recently the dotcom boom – it seems we will never learn.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said there is a legitimate interest in cryptocurrencies and there’s no reason why not a small business shouldn’t invest some cash in them. But as you expect there is a ‘but’ coming from the CEO of the group dedicated to preventing bad debt. He said: “But you should never invest more than you can afford to lose – treat it as a hobby and you can’t go wrong. Invest all your cash in it and look what has happened to FTX. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have lost everything – to the tune of £32 billion pounds. That’s why caution is the watch word.”

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Grounded: Flybe have gone into adminstration for the second time

ICSM Aviation Business News: Flybe leaves customers and suppliers high and dry as it collapses into administration for the second time in three years

By Harry Mottram: Three yeas ago this month Flybe warned of redundancies at its Exeter headquarters. Just two months later it collapsed as a business leaving customers, suppliers and the Devon airport in the lurch as it owed an eye-watering £650 million pounds. Now it has happened again under the new owners Thyme Opco, a firm linked to US hedge fund Cyrus Capital and subsequently renamed Flybe Limited.

The airline now based at Birmingham announced it had ceased trading this morning catching hundreds of their customers off guard as unsuspecting travellers arrived to find their flights cancelled.

Paul Smith of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We urge passengers planning to fly with this airline not to go to the airport as all Flybe flights are cancelled. For the latest advice, Flybe customers should visit the Civil Aviation Authority’s website or our Twitter feed for more information.”

Flybe released this statement: “If you are due to fly with Flybe today or in the future, please DO NOT TRAVEL TO THE AIRPORT unless you have arranged an alternative flight with another airline. Please note that Flybe is unfortunately not able to arrange alternative flights for passengers.

“If you have a Flybe booking sold by an intermediary (i.e. not directly with Flybe) that includes travel on a Flybe flight, please contact the relevant airline or booking / travel agent to confirm if there is any impact to your travel plans as the intermediary may be able to support you with alternative arrangements and provide further advice regarding any claim you may need to make.”

David John Pike and Michael Robert Pink were appointed by the High Court on 28 January 2023 as Joint Administrators to help manage the affairs, business and property of Flybe Limited, in accordance with the powers and duties contained in the order appointing them. The Joint Administrators act as agents of the Company, without personal liability.

Flybe were back in business as an airline after the acquisition by Thyme Opco in April of last year with flights from Belfast City, Birmingham, and Heathrow to airports across the UK as well as to Amsterdam and Geneva.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM whose membership includes many suppliers and customers of Flybe said this was a devastating blow for all concerned as for the second time millions of pounds will be lost. He said: “The last time they went bust the amount of debt was horrific. Administrators Ernst & Young said in their report the figure could rise to as high as £789 with the staff and pension contributions owed more than £3 million pounds. They also said that unsecured creditors would be unlikely to be paid – so it was a financial mess.”

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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ICSM Business Insolvency News: Begbies Traynor warns that ‘thousands of firms face closure’ as costs mount in a ‘perfect storm’ for business

By Harry Mottram: The BBC’s Simon Jack has given an alarming report of business collapse following warnings from the insolvency practitioners Begbie Traynor.

He said that the company had received a growing number of calls from business owners who were considering calling it a day as costs mounted and interest rates crippled their ability to repay covid loans. Simon Jack wrote: “Begbies Traynor said the number of companies in critical financial distress jumped by 36% in the last three months of 2022. A firm is in critical financial distress if it has more than £5,000 in county court judgments or a winding up petition against it. The number of county court judgments served against companies in the same period jumped by 52% compared with 2021.”

He quoted Paul Jones who has a company in Manchester and was struggling with high costs, historic debt, low consumer confidence and post-Brexit trading problems. He said Mr Jones had thought about shutting up shop every month for more than two years a that ‘he remains downbeat about business prospects in 2023.’

Another case Simon Jack gave was of the Creameries Restaurant in Manchester which had closed down after the ‘final straw’ of the hike in energy costs. Run by Chef Mary-Ellen McTague the business shut last year despite having rave reviews and was trading well – until the pandemic came along. Many in business will relate to her story that the concerns about making a venture work took a toll on her mental health – and the drain it puts on the owner as the money matters mount.

Simon Jack said Begbies Traynor had reported that the number of firms on the brink of going bust jumped by more than a third at the end of last year. Ian Carrotte of ICSM whose group is dedicated to preventing bad debt and late payment said the Government support for businesses over energy prices is due to end in April. He said: “Sadly it is a perfect storm for many business sectors with interest rates, inflation, energy prices and a fall off in footfall as household incomes decline. It is no surprise to those of us of a certain age there are a rash of strikes taking place in all sectors. Inflation is back to 1970s’ levels – and we all know what happened back then. Our advice is to cut overheads to the bone but don’t give up on marketing and sales. But above all do not allow clients to pay later than your credit terms. Cash flow is just as important as when there is a boom.”

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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ICSM Business Cryptocurrency News: Following the FTX ‘Ponzi Scheme’ scandal, advocates of cryptocurrencies spin good news about the sector – but Coinbase slash jobs as crisis deepens

By Harry Mottram: Reuters have reported that Coinbase have laid off 950 workers as the market for cryptocurrencies suffers problems following the FTX scandal which lost investors millions of pounds. But last year before the scandal broke Bitcoin saw its value fall from around £30K in 2021 to about £9K in November last year according to NBC News.

The FTX scandal in which investors cash was funnelled illegally by the former founder Sam Bankman-Fried into politicians, property and sister companies has spooked the cryptocurrency industry. Forbes reported this month: “Ethereum (ETH) prices dropped another 1.4% in December to close out the year at $1,199. Bitcoin prices dropped nearly 65% in 2022, its worst annual performance since its 73% decline in 2018. Ethereum prices dropped 67.7% in 2022.

“Rising interest rates triggered crypto winter in 2022, producing a wave of bankruptcies in the crypto industry and sending the prices of most popular cryptocurrencies tumbling. Among the 10 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, Tron (TRON) was the best performer with a 27% decline. Polkadot (DOT) took the hardest hit with an 83.6% price decline on the year.

“The total market capitalization of the global cryptocurrency market peaked at over $2.9 trillion in November 2021. As of the end of 2022, that market cap now stands at just $798 billion.”

Those figures speak for themselves and it is no surprise with millions of pounds of investors cash lost in 2022 there are growing calls on both sides of the Atlantic for regulation of the ‘Wild West’ industry. That is something that may well happen in the coming years but in the mean time the industry’s champions are talking up cryptocurrencies as they point to the huge swings in value in the past. Typical is  Sandra Ro, CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council, who was reported by website Coin desk as saying: “Regroup with humility, rebuild with integrity, regain trust, rise again.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said that nobody should invest more than they can afford to lose in cryptocurrencies and he likened it to gambling by saying it should be a speculative hobby and not a way to earn money. “It’s an old phrase,” said Ian Carrotte, “but if something is too good to be true then it isn’t. What Bankman-Fried was promising investors was fantasy stuff – get rich quick. Some say it was a Ponzi scheme – but it’s a essentially an old fashioned fraud using the latest technology.”

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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ICSM Business News: full time whistle blows for another football club after Scunthorpe United FC is served a winding-up petition

By Harry Mottram: The taxman has caught up with Scunthorpe United FC over an alleged unpaid tax bill. HM Revenue and Customs have served a winding-up petition which could spell the end of the National League club founded in 1899.

The club had been up for sale as is lies at the bottom of the fifth level of the football pyramid and a deal was announced before Christmas but it has yet to be signed off. The Iron were relegated out of the Football League after 72 years last season and are bottom of the division.

Begbies Traynor have been trying to find a buyer and to secure the club’s future but with what is assumed to be a huge unpaid tax bill speculation amongst fans is the club will phoenix and start again in a lower league. What will happen to its assets and in particular the Glanford Park ground is open to speculation.

 Ian Carrotte of ICSM said it was a familiar story of a club with poor credit management – when instead all clubs should be run as a business and live within their means. He said: “Too often people with egos take over clubs – they frequently have no financial experience that is relevant to the job. The losers are the suppliers who are often left unpaid – the players and staff – and the town or city who can end up losing one of the organisations that puts them on the map.”

In the past there is a long list of football clubs that have gone bust and, in most cases, have done a phoenix and reformed – and in some cases dumping the debts that caused their demise. Ian Carrotte said suppliers to clubs must not get caught up with the emotional ties to a club allowing their support for the team clouding judgement when it comes to granting credit. By their nature clubs are supplied from a huge range of firms who can get stunk if the business hits the rocks.

Those with long memories will recall how Accrington Stanley folded in the 1960s – although the club was eventually reborn. These are some of the clubs in England and Wales that have gone bust in the past and then returned after being reconstructed:

Bradford City in 1983, Charlton Athletic in 1984, Middlesborough in 1986, Tranmere Rovers in 1987 and Newport County in 1989. In the 1990s Walsall, Northampton Town, Kettering, Aldershot, Maidstone, Hartlepool, Barnet, Exeter, Gillingham Doncaster, Millwall, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Chester and Portsmouth all entered administration or applied for a CVA to survive – in this century Hull, QPR, Bury, Halifax, Bradford, Notts County, Barnsley, Leicester, Port Vale, York, Derby County, Ipswich, Wimbledon, Oldham, Darlington, Bradford City (again), Wrexham, Cambridge, Rotherham, Crawley, Boston, Leeds, Luton, Bournemouth, Rotherham, Halifax, Darlington, Southampton, Stockport, Chester, Northwich Victoria, Farsley Celtic, Salisbury, Weymouth, Crystal Palace (again), Portsmouth, Plymouth, Rushden and Diamonds, Darlington(again), Portsmouth (again), Port Vale (again), Aldershot (again), Bolton, Bury, Rhyl, Wigan, Bury (again) and Derby County (again).

In Scotland the same situation saw these clubs also hit the rocks in this century: Queen’s Park, Greenock, Clydebank, Airdrieonians, Motherwell, Dundee, Livingston, Gretna, Livingston (again), Dundee (again), Rangers, Dunfermline and Hearts.

Glasgow Rangers hit the rocks in 2012 when the club went into administration when debts hit £168.9 million pounds. More than half of the debt was to the taxman – but the list of unsecured creditors included the corner shop by the Ibrox ground (£567.45), a face painter called Susan Thomson (£40), the police £51,882 and the ambulance service £8,438. And they also owed other football clubs a total of £3.3 million pounds – a shocking list of creditors.

Ian Carrotte again stressed suppliers to be especially cautious when granting credit to sports clubs as they so often trade off the notion they can never go bust. The opposite is true when you look at the list of insolvencies.

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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Photo from Hello Magazine showing a range of Alice Temperley clothing modelled by Kate Middlton

ICSM Rag Trade Business News: High end fashion houses struggle as consumers cut back while the collapsed Temperley brand that owed £31m has done a phoenix and is already losing millions

By Harry Mottram: As the cost of living rises so personal budgets for buying clothes shrink. That stylish jacked for £250 might have to be binned in favour for something for a few pounds in a charity shop. Everyone – well not everyone as Kate Middleton the Princess of Wales was reported to have spend £176,664 on clothes last year – is having to cut back. Budget clothing stores and supermarkets that sell a basic range are doing well.

Writing for the Daily Mail’s business desk Adam Luck penned a piece entitled ‘Catwalks littered with losses for the Queens of Fashion.’ He reported on Stella McCartney’s £32.7 million pound losses – enough to break any company unless there’s some help from backers – and on the shocking losses at Alice Temperley who notched up £31 million in losses before performing a phoenix and setting up a new Temperley firm that is already posted £2.3 million in losses.

Adam Luck reported: “When Alice Temperley announced last January that she was intending to take her son to Sri Lanka to be ‘immersed in another culture’ it is unlikely creditors of her fallen empire were impressed. Only a month before it was revealed that her fashion brand Temperley London, a favourite of the new Princess of Wales, owed £31million when it went into administration in April 2021.

“Temperley simply set up a new company using a pre-pack deal to buy back the best assets, which enabled her to keep selling her trademark flowing sequined frocks and velvet suits, which have drawn a long list of admirers.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM – the business intelligence group dedicated to preventing bad debts and warning its members of late payers – said the excuse that was given by the administrators it was Covid that finished the firm was not entirely true as it had been losing cash before the pandemic.

He said: “For suppliers there’s a danger of allowing these big names in fashion with their celebrity clients to fob them off with excuses for not paying on time. The old line that they are too famous to fail or worse ‘do you know who I am’ are often given – but in reality they are no different from any business. There is a pattern with the big names mentioned by Adam Luck which is the economy has pulled the rug from under their business model as customers seek lower priced clothing.”

In his article Adam Luck also mentioned Victoria Beckham whose fashion business that has accumulated losses of £66 million while model Alexa Chung’s fashion firm has run up losses of more than £10 million and is alarming suppliers by announcing she is to ‘wind down’ the business.

Ian Carrotte said other businesses in the sector that had hit the buffers included Misguided, Revlon, Secoo and M&Co.

Below are more names from the rag trade that have seen major problems. ICSM lists by each sector the financial casualties in its regular news stories and newsletters.

RAG TRADE: CLOTHING MANUFACTURING, FASHION, TEXTILES

ADMINISTRATORS APPOINTED

CUT4CLOTH LTD    05011885

MADE.COM DESIGN LTD    07101408

CREDITORS’ VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION DEEMED IN CONSENT MEETINGS

CITY CLOTHING LIMITED    11898262

FASHION HOUSE (UK) LIMITED    04204878

LIQUIDATORS APPOINTED

ALBION APPAREL GROUP LIMITED    12398032

BELLA BOUTIQUE LTD    08945057

BRIDE & PROMS LIMITED    07040789

C C CLOTHING (ESSEX) LIMITED     10788054

EDA LINGERIE LIMITED    02932011

NEWGEN FASHION LTD    12266095

NOTTINGHAM APPAREL LIMITED    10988268

SIGN TEC CLOTHING LIMITED    04468550

WORKWEAR FOR ALL LIMITED    10763599

MEMBERS VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATIONS

NAPA FASHION LTD    09306424

PARKLANE TEXTILES LIMITED     02068339

PETITIONS TO WIND UP

BBTEXTILES13 LTD    08835143

HOUSE OF HANOVER LIMITED    08709336

VENTURA CLOTHING LTD     10748215

WINDING UP ORDERS

BOLTON TEXTILES (GROUP) LIMITED    10717887

UNITED FABRICS LIMITED    12418428

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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ICSM Business News: full time whistle blows for another football club after Scunthorpe United FC is served a winding-up petition

By Harry Mottram: The taxman has caught up with Scunthorpe United FC over an alleged unpaid tax bill. HM Revenue and Customs have served a winding-up petition which could spell the end of the National League club founded in 1899.

The club had been up for sale as is lies at the bottom of the fifth level of the football pyramid and a deal was announced before Christmas but it has yet to be signed off. The Iron were relegated out of the Football League after 72 years last season and are bottom of the division.

Begbies Traynor have been trying to find a buyer and to secure the club’s future but with what is assumed to be a huge unpaid tax bill speculation amongst fans is the club will phoenix and start again in a lower league. What will happen to its assets and in particular the Glanford Park ground is open to speculation.

 Ian Carrotte of ICSM said it was a familiar story of a club with poor credit management – when instead all clubs should be run as a business and live within their means. He said: “Too often people with egos take over clubs – they frequently have no financial experience that is relevant to the job. The losers are the suppliers who are often left unpaid – the players and staff – and the town or city who can end up losing one of the organisations that puts them on the map.”

In the past there is a long list of football clubs that have gone bust and, in most cases, have done a phoenix and reformed – and in some cases dumping the debts that caused their demise. Ian Carrotte said suppliers to clubs must not get caught up with the emotional ties to a club allowing their support for the team clouding judgement when it comes to granting credit. By their nature clubs are supplied from a huge range of firms who can get stunk if the business hits the rocks.

Those with long memories will recall how Accrington Stanley folded in the 1960s – although the club was eventually reborn. These are some of the clubs in England and Wales that have gone bust in the past and then returned after being reconstructed:

Bradford City in 1983, Charlton Athletic in 1984, Middlesborough in 1986, Tranmere Rovers in 1987 and Newport County in 1989. In the 1990s Walsall, Northampton Town, Kettering, Aldershot, Maidstone, Hartlepool, Barnet, Exeter, Gillingham Doncaster, Millwall, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Chester and Portsmouth all entered administration or applied for a CVA to survive – in this century Hull, QPR, Bury, Halifax, Bradford, Notts County, Barnsley, Leicester, Port Vale, York, Derby County, Ipswich, Wimbledon, Oldham, Darlington, Bradford City (again), Wrexham, Cambridge, Rotherham, Crawley, Boston, Leeds, Luton, Bournemouth, Rotherham, Halifax, Darlington, Southampton, Stockport, Chester, Northwich Victoria, Farsley Celtic, Salisbury, Weymouth, Crystal Palace (again), Portsmouth, Plymouth, Rushden and Diamonds, Darlington(again), Portsmouth (again), Port Vale (again), Aldershot (again), Bolton, Bury, Rhyl, Wigan, Bury (again) and Derby County (again).

In Scotland the same situation saw these clubs also hit the rocks in this century: Queen’s Park, Greenock, Clydebank, Airdrieonians, Motherwell, Dundee, Livingston, Gretna, Livingston (again), Dundee (again), Rangers, Dunfermline and Hearts.

Glasgow Rangers hit the rocks in 2012 when the club went into administration when debts hit £168.9 million pounds. More than half of the debt was to the taxman – but the list of unsecured creditors included the corner shop by the Ibrox ground (£567.45), a face painter called Susan Thomson (£40), the police £51,882 and the ambulance service £8,438. And they also owed other football clubs a total of £3.3 million pounds – a shocking list of creditors.

Ian Carrotte again stressed suppliers to be especially cautious when granting credit to sports clubs as they so often trade off the notion they can never go bust. The opposite is true when you look at the list of insolvencies.

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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A personal view on newspaper groups as Reach’s ‘shares tank on profit warning’ – chalk up another victory for defeatism as management and owners ‘manage decline’

By Harry Mottram: As a one-time news reporter and feature writer at some of Reach’s titles – formerly Trinity Mirror – my attention was grabbed when I saw Jo Francis’ article on Print Week that the firm’s shares had lost 25% on an announcement of a profit warning.

The journalist wrote: “In a Q4 trading update this morning (11 January), Reach said that it expected operating profit for the full year to fall below market expectations ‘by mid-single digits’. Analysts had been expecting the group to post sales of £602.5m and an operating profit of £112.8m. Reach’s shares tanked in early trading, falling by 30%. The price was down 28% at 78.67p at the time of writing. The 52-week high is 282p, low 64.40p. Despite Reach’s focus on growth in its digital offering, digital revenue fell by 5.9% in the three months to 25 December, while print sales were down 3.6%. Print circulation revenue was up 1.8% on the back of cover price increases, while print advertising was down 20.2%.”

The newspaper industry has been in decline since the late 1990s when the internet began to take advertising revenue with sites like e-bay, Facebook etc cleaning up the classifieds. As websites began publishing news online for free and 24hr news became the norm on TV readership began to fall off. At the Bristol Evening Post the news of declines in circulation were greeted with gloomy faces in the newsroom – because every fall led to redundancies and cuts to the number of sections in the newspaper.

Not just at Reach but at Newsquest and other newspaper groups I had worked at as staff were shed and cuts were made to all aspects of the business. From vacating town centre offices for smaller units where hot desking was the norm to salaries kept down and printing centralised at print hubs. It has been 25 years of a downward spiral.

But it didn’t have to be like that. I always remember my line manager telling me as he handed out redundancy notices to me other editorial staff that he was ‘managing decline.’ Chalk up another victory for defeatism. This was in a publishing company that didn’t see websites as the future and gave away the news for free without a pay wall. Ian Hislop of Private Eye summed it up when he said (and I am paraphrasing his words) that gathering news is a very labour intensive and expensive business – so why give it away? Private Eye for example only has a basic website and has seen its circulation rise as it features an increasing amount of serious investigative journalism that is not readily available in some newspapers – that are a pale shadow of their past selves.

The main casualty (apart from staff cuts) with this ‘managing decline’ mentality has been scrutiny of public and private organisations. From town councils to county councils – there are too few reporters to attend meetings and ask questions. Local Democracy Reporters funded by the BBC are great but each time they have been embedded in newsrooms the owners of the newspapers have often sacked their own reporters.

It is a universal problem for newspapers but paywalls and subscription models for The Times and The Guardian have had some effect in generating income but advertising revenues from online ads don’t match the premium value on ads in newspapers. Advertisers prefer paper as they know the reader will look at all the pages and having either paid for the title or had a free newspaper come through the letterbox are more likely to be influenced. Most publishers have always relied on associated products from magazines to supplements – today those spin-offs include podcasts, blogs, online radio and TV news along with promotions for holidays, wine – you name it.

I was told on several occasions at different newspapers by managers that the newspaper would continue to be published despite the near lack of news inside as they were the cash cow for the owners. Shareholders demand profits and if that meant cuts then so be it – a policy which was destroying the very product they prized in the long run.

There has been an increase in smaller niche local newspapers – often free and sometime paid for community publications but these do not replace the traditional local newspaper that were seen as publications of record. I recall writing up flower show results, all the local planning applications and even GCSE results. That has largely gone – along with detailed accounts of council meetings when gaffs could reveal serious stories – now largely not covered. That’s a loss – and the news that Reach are planning another £30 million pounds in savings sounds the death of many a local, regional and even a national title. Reach like other newspaper groups and have raised the white flag as they look to diversify away from newsprint to an uncertain future.

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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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Morecambe FC is up for sale

ICSM Business News: concerns mount over the future of football league club after ’20-year-old tycoon’ puts in ownership bid – plus a long list of football clubs who have gone bust

By Harry Mottram: The collapse of the rugby union club Worcester Warriors has triggered problems for the League One football association side Morecambe FC. The owners of the rugby club Bond Group Investments are also owners of the Lancashire club known as ‘The Shrimps’, have put both clubs up for sale following the collapse of the rugby club last year.

The main concern for the supporters of Morecambe FC is the nature of the potential new owner Sarbjot Johal who hails from Birmingham. At only 20 years of age and branded as an entrepreneur by the media Johal founded a non-alcoholic drink called Vitanic and apparently has the cash to buy the club. However, supporters have reported on social media that the website for the Vitanic drink has only one page and the drink is out of stock.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM – the business credit intelligence membership group – said the Football Association had very clear rules on the eligibility of owners of football clubs. He said: “The FA have a set of tests that new owners must pass including their finances following a number of failures in the past. If Morcambe is to be bought, then the FA will investigate the deal to ensure the club can continue.”

The professional boxer Tyson Fury was linked to a potential bid for the club as he owns trainings facilities associated with the club but apparently has not put in an offer for the club – according to local media reports. Morecambe FC play their football in League One of the FA’s football structure – the third tier of the set up.

In the past there is a long list of football clubs that have gone bust and, in most cases, have done a phoenix and reformed – and in some cases dumping the debts that caused their demise. Ian Carrotte said suppliers to clubs must not get caught up with the emotional ties to a club allowing their support for the team clouding judgement when it comes to granting credit. By their nature clubs are supplied from a huge range of firms who can get stunk if the business hits the rocks.

Those with long memories will recall how Accrington Stanley folded in the 1960s – although the club was eventually reborn. These are some of the clubs in England and Wales that have gone bust in the past and then returned after being reconstructed:

Bradford City in 1983, Charlton Athletic in 1984, Middlesborough in 1986, Tranmere Rovers in 1987 and Newport County in 1989. In the 1990s Walsall, Northampton Town, Kettering, Aldershot, Maidstone, Hartlepool, Barnet, Exeter, Gillingham Doncaster, Millwall, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Chester and Portsmouth all entered administration or applied for a CVA to survive – in this century Hull, QPR, Bury, Halifax, Bradford, Notts County, Barnsley, Leicester, Port Vale, York, Derby County, Ipswich, Wimbledon, Oldham, Darlington, Bradford City (again), Wrexham, Cambridge, Rotherham, Crawley, Boston, Leeds, Luton, Bournemouth, Rotherham, Halifax, Darlington, Southampton, Stockport, Chester, Northwich Victoria, Farsley Celtic, Salisbury, Weymouth, Crystal Palace (again), Portsmouth, Plymouth, Rushden and Diamonds, Darlington(again), Portsmouth (again), Port Vale (again), Aldershot (again), Bolton, Bury, Rhyl, Wigan, Bury (again) and Derby County (again).

In Scotland the same situation saw these clubs also hit the rocks in this century: Queen’s Park, Greenock, Clydebank, Airdrieonians, Motherwell, Dundee, Livingston, Gretna, Livingston (again), Dundee (again), Rangers, Dunfermline and Hearts.

Glasgow Rangers hit the rocks in 2012 when the club went into administration when debts hit £168.9 million pounds. More than half of the debt was to the taxman – but the list of unsecured creditors included the corner shop by the Ibrox ground (£567.45), a face painter called Susan Thomson (£40), the police £51,882 and the ambulance service £8,438. And they also owed other football clubs a total of £3.3 million pounds – a shocking list of creditors.

Ian Carrotte again stressed suppliers to be especially cautious when granting credit to sports clubs as they so often trade off the notion they can never go bust. The opposite is true when you look at the list of insolvencies.

ICSM Credit is a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. 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.

Harry Mottram is a freelance jounalist who supplies news stories to ICSM. His views are not necessarily those of ICSM. For details of his work visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Comment: time for Labour and the Conservatives to address the elephant in the room – Brexit continues to damage the economy and many businesses

By Harry Mottram: Both the Tories of Rishi Sunak and the Labour Party of Kier Starmer are in denial about Brexit and the way it has hit travel and trade. By any measure it has been a disaster for the UK economy with even the Government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility have assessed the economy to be down by around 4% due to leaving the EU trading block.

Crisis

The political party that is most associated with business has turned its back on trade in an ideological shift to the right driven by a Little Englander mentality and a belief history can be turned back to pre-Common Market times. It hasn’t worked. Since 2016 and the narrow referendum victory we have seen businesses closing operations in the UK and moving them to the continent, a political crisis in Northern Ireland, recruitment problems in a variety of sectors and travel restrictions for tourists and businesspeople. And as for the promises of lower prices, higher wages and the UK becoming the Singapore of the Atlantic – forget it. And I haven’t mentioned the £250 million a week for the NHS that was emblazoned on a bus during the referendum campaign.

Blame

Advocates of Brexit have found a range of things to blame for its failures – from Covid to Putin and from Remainers to the EU itself. From Project Fear to Project Reality the Brexit promised by the likes of Gove and Johnson have not materialised – and the blame lies at the door of the Government as it was their business deal that was brokered.

Schengen 

What to do? The recently floated idea of a Switzerland style deal with the EU was the first sensible notion floated by insiders in Whitehall. If you travel from France into the land of the Cuckoo Clock there are no obvious border controls since it’s a member of the Schengen Area. Everyday people commute to work without passport checks between the two countries and although there are some checks these are minimal – unless you are from the UK of course. Joining the Schengen zone is one obvious way to improve travel – not just for tourists but for workers which would help alleviate recruitment in the UK in hospitality, farming, medical and the logistic sectors.

2024

Only the Lib Dems, Scottish Nationalists and other smaller political parties like the Green Party are in favour of rejoining the EU and unless there is a political earthquake they are unlikely to form the next Government. However, if Labour win the expected 2024 election then according to their current position they don’t plan to rejoin but instead would negotiate a ‘better Brexit.’

New deal

The most obvious thing to do – if our two main political parties had any backbone – would be to square with the public and business and outline the facts: Brexit hasn’t delivered. And prepare the ground to either rejoin the EU or negotiate a halfway house with an improved deal. Whatever they decide, being in denial of the elephant in the room must end – and Britain’s economy, travel and trade needs to be put first instead and honesty must replace ideology.

Harry Mottram is a freelance jounalist who supplies news stories to ICSM. His views are not necessarily those of ICSM. For details of his work visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Pic: BBC

ICSM Business News: the long list of retailers who have gone bust in 2022 – and the latest high profile sports firm that joins them

By Harry Mottram: The pandemic, the lockdowns, the consumer switch to online shopping, Brexit supply issues, an increase in interest rates, rising inflation and historic debt have brought many retailers to the brink of collapse such as Joules and McColls. Others have collapsed completely in the wake of Debenhams and Top Shop with this year seeing the end for Made.com  and Missguided and also shopping centres in East Kilbride and Aberdeen.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said there is a big knock-on to the economy when major retailers go under as apart from their suppliers and customers being hit the footfall in town centres and high streets may fall. “That has an effect of other businesses that surround a department store or supermarket,” he said. “When the supermarket moved out of the shopping centre in Bedminster in Bristol and area slowly declined. There are many examples of where this happens and one of the killer blows for grocers and retailers is the level of business rates the rents from landlords. These don’t take into account the changed trading conditions these businesses face.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers hope the World Cup and Black Friday will give sales a much-needed boost ahead of Christmas. However, with little sign of cost pressures easing, government action is needed to support households.

“Retailers face an additional government imposed £800m inflationary increase in their business rates bills next year so the government should freeze rates and reform the broken transitional relief system to alleviate cost pressures that are feeding through to higher prices at a time when people are least able to afford them.”

Some of those that have gone this year include Joules – although they have been partly saved by Next who have taken on some of their stores, Garth Bakery and Sarah Snacks, Made.com, TheVeganKind (TVK), Eve Sleep, Jupiter Group, Tree of Life, Carzam, Studio Retail Group, Sofa Workshop, Sofa Workshop,  T M Lewin, J C Rook and Sons, Dawnfresh Seafoods and R R Spink & Sons, Trinity Group, Gieves & Hawkins and Steptronic Footwear.

There are many more with the latest big name being Elite Sports Group, who provided merchandise, retail services and also runs the sports shops of many football clubs. They went into administration in November 2022 creating a huge disruption to the lucrative sports market ahead of Christmas. Its brands include Hummel, Maybe, Lift and Turnstile. It is the supplier of Hummel sports clothing to many UK clubs for their first teams, youth teams, women’s teams and others.

This is a list of some recent liquidations:

NOVEMBER ICSM LIST

ANAMORE FOOTWEAR LTD     12749589

BEAUTY PREMIER LIMITED     05706432

INFINITY HOT TUBS LIMITED     11983464

LAUREN NICHOLAS KITCHEN DESIGN LIMITED     05263421

LITTLEBOROUGH FURNITURE COMPANY LTD    10336867

MARSDEN BROTHERS LTD     12717345

PRODUCT NATION LIMITED     08461983

REMI HAIR LIMITED     10817312

OCTOBER ICSM LIST

THE MATTRESS TRADER LIMITED     09811097

AA MARKET LTD    12169028

A GREAT READ LIMITED    06197795

A-Z WEDDING SERVICES LIMITED    06424884

BUY ANYTHING LTD    13268954

CENTRAL MARKET LTD    11799098

CHAOS FASHION LIMITED    09648553

COMPLETE CARPETS LIMITED    07769270

CONNOISSEUR CLASSICS LIMITED    11857126

C W VEHICLE SALES LIMITED    11254813

DJS RETAIL LIMITED    04415903

DOWSETT MOTORS LIMITED    04780920

FEATHER DRESSAGE LTD    10901516

FURNITURE LOFT LIMITED    09979299

HODGSON SPORTS LTD    11876682

HUDDERSFIELD NURSING HOMES LIMITED    01963535

JTK WHOLESALE LTD     11580058

K & C FASHION TRADING LIMITED    10400769

LONDON PREMIER SOUVENIRS LIMITED    07261717

MALL JEWELLERS (WALSALL) LTD    11961340

M & L TRAVEL ACCESSORIES LTD    08270884

MICKY HAMMOND RACING LIMITED    11847367

NEWLAND RETAIL LIMITED    11841704

OPTIMAL FURNITURE LIMITED    11236189

OXFORD CASUALWEAR LIMITED    12964245

SPARTAN WHOLESALE LIMITED    11861215

STORE RETAIL GROUP LTD    10420718

SWEET PACKS LIMITED    11919787

THE FINE GIFT COMPANY LIMITED    06515925

VP RETAIL LIMITED    11824694

ZENITH MARKETS LTD     11978195

SEPTEMBER ICSM LIST

AW RETAIL LIMITED     06879213

BATHROOMS OF WINCHESTER LIMITED    07817899

BEIJING TONG REN TANG (LEEDS) COMPANY LIMITED    08736109

BRANDED PLANET LIMITED    07926938

BUSSPEPPER PROMOTIONS LIMITED    05226545

CARDIFF SCOOTER STYLE LIMITED    44746

CHEEKY CHARLIES SWEET EMPORIUM LIMITED    08007375

CREATIVE STUDIOS DERBY LIMITED    08739480

CM CRICKET LTD    12680454

DAHAK INTERNATIONAL LIMITED    06482463

DESIGN HOUSE NORTHWEST LTD    4403733

DISTONS RETAIL LIMITED    44746

EARTHKIND EVENTS LTD    12698467

FURBABIESS LIMITED    12616524

I LOVE RETRO LIMITED    44746

JMF RETAIL LIMITED    44746

KOALA HOME SHOPPING LIMITED    10795556

L&R TRAILERS LIMITED    44746

LOVEDAY & SONS LIMITED    00382448

MARK BRAMALL MERCHANDISE LIMITED    44746

ONLINE RETAIL STORE LIMITED    12329257

ORO BIANCO HOME LIMITED    10842109

OUR PRICE RECORDS LIMITED     04792445

PARTY STOCK LTD    44746

PINTOR LTD    03304201

PRICE MARKETS UK LTD    09597543

RETROTRADINGTECH LIMITED    12324551

SANDFORD TYRES LIMITED     05232115

SIGNATURE HAIR SALON LTD    10471750

THE BEAUTY GARDEN GROUP (UK) LTD    12435029

THE FIRE STATION LIMITED    44746

VELOTRADE LTD    44746

WHITE ROSES WHOLESALE LIMITED     10454505

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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

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: The Bolton News

ICSM Business News: as the economy shrinks and property prices fall so the fortunes of construction firms take a dip as more companies go to the wall

By Harry Mottram: Across the UK building projects have begun to stall as more firms either pause work or go under as the cold economic winds of recession chill the industry to the bone. One of the most reliable indicators of the health of the industry is the Purchasing Managers’ Index which charts what is being spent – and the levels of expenditure are down according to market analysis this year. This year the number of insolvent construction firms has risen by more than 20% with 100% rise last year.

It has left thousands of suppliers, contractors and the taxman out of pocket. When URBN Construction in Plymouth went down earlier this year they owed £345,687 with the suppliers unlikely to get a penny and even HMRC is unlikely to get anything much despite being a preferential creditor. ICSM’s Ian Carrotte said every time a major firm goes bust it is a double whammy on the economy as not only does the firm renege on its debts it causes others to suffer a loss meaning investment from those affected is hit.

One of the main issues created when a firm goes under is the cost of administration. NMCN appointed Grant Thornton to handle their collapse and have seen fees reach almost £3 million. The construction firm has 3,000 unsecured creditors owed around £115 Million mounds. It has been reported that Grant Thornton ran up a bill of over £7 million when they handled the affairs of the collapsed retailer Debenhams. If the economy is in recession – one sector that clearly isn’t in trouble is that of firms that take over the administration of insolvent companies.

Some recent casualties include these:

ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING LTD    11475558

ARCHER & CHARLTON CONSTRUCTION LTD    11848807

BASL BUILDING AND MAINTENANCE LIMITED    08070071

BBR CONSTRUCTION LIMITED    11343822

BILLERICAY BUILDING (ESSEX) LTD     11511111

BIRCH BROTHERS (KIDDERMINSTER) LIMITED    01480871

CUSTOM MADE CONSTRUCTION COTSWOLDS LTD     10659223

D & M BARTHORPE LIMITED     07215799

GCO INTERNATIONAL LTD    11780528

GENSON BUILDING SERVICES LIMITED    08610745

HOLLIANNA INTERIORS DESIGN LTD    10134609

KMF CONSTRUCTION LIMITED    12075058

NORTON WINDOWS AND ROOFS LIMITED    13168576

ODYSSEY CONSTRUCTION SERVICES LIMITED    11694311

POWER CONSTRUCTION LIMITED     13349990

SENILGA CONSTRUCTION LIMITED     09722792

TOORLEY LIMITED    11711320

COUTURE CONSTRUCTION (NORFOLK) LTD    11633858

HIGH SPEC INTERIORS LIMITED     07248872

JAMIE HUNT CONSTRUCTION LIMITED    06546912

J H BUILDING & CARPENTRY LIMITED     10046878

JVH BUILDING SERVICES LTD     09505886

KMR CONSTRUCTION LIMITED    09216800

OSTIN CONSTRUCTION LTD     11652179

PLASTICS IN CONSTRUCTION LIMITED     05056012

SIK ELECTRICAL LTD     06179961

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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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ICSM Business News: the perfect economic storm hits hauliers with inflation, hiked interest rates, covid debt, Brexit, labour shortages and fuel prices forcing more firms to go bust

By Harry Mottram: Students of the logistics industry will have seen a number of hauliers go to the wall recently as a perfect storm his the business. The Institute For Government – the charitable think tank working to make Government more effective – has listed some of the reasons why so many have gone bust. And it’s not exactly a state secret as to what these reasons are.

They cite: “The causes of supply chain disruptions in the UK are complex. Labour shortages, Brexit trade barriers, global supply problems and panic buying have all contributed.”

And in the trade press Chris Tindall of Motor Transport has charted the downfall of several firms this autumn. Corporate Solutions with is fleet of HGVs had a £700,000 pre-tax loss six months before its demise. He reported: “The Solihull-based firm closed in October after suffering increasing fuel and driver costs, with the implementation of IR35 rules compounding its problems according to administrators FRP. In a report to creditors, FRP said the off-payroll working rules contributed to the driver shortage and adversely affected the haulier and the subcontractors it required to deliver customer contracts.”

The firm had defaulted on payments to the taxman owes more than a quarter of a million pounds to preferential creditors who are unlikely to get all what they are owed while unsecured creditors are owed an eye-watering £3.1 million pounds.

In a slightly better position are the creditors of Herts-based TV and film transport company and the associated business Green Clover, who provided transport and recycling services to the film and entertainment industries. Chris Tindall reported that joint administrator Guy Holland had managed to sell some of their kit meaning creditors may get around 5p in the pound. Holland said Covid had been the cause of a rise in debt due to the shut down of much of their customers due to the crisis.

Another casualty reported by Motor Transport last month was Loughborough-based Eclipse Distribution who “has entered administration, just a year after its founder sold the business to a private equity firm.” More jobs have gone at the firm with suppliers wondering if they will be paid.

The list goes on with Saints Transport collapsing this summer with Chris Tindall reporting: “…disaster struck, first with Brexit causing a large drop in volume of work and a costly reliance on agency drivers and then the ‘absolutely catastrophic’ effect of Covid on the business: ‘The workload disappeared overnight, but the company’s overheads remained.’”

Behind with tax payments and facing a heft legal bill plus a fall in trade due the firm entered administration on August 1.

ICSM has recorded in its Runners and Riders newsletter a long list of hauliers and associated logistic firms who have gone to the wall. These are just a few of the latest casualties:

LIQUIDATORS APPOINTED

ALL WORLD FREIGHT LIMITED    02147085

EARLS REMOVALS LTD     09181052

LTG DISTRIBUTION LIMITED     10255827

M ADE TRANSPORT LTD     11486295

NVP VEHICLE RENTAL LIMITED    10940919

ONLINE WAREHOUSE LIMITED    05002244

PKS HAULIERS LTD    04802480

AFP VAN HIRE LIMITED    03541339

AJJ TRANSPORT LTD    08106997

ASKIN HAULAGE LIMITED    08444224

BLC HAULAGE CONTRACTORS LIMITED    10349472

BRIDGE AND LOGISTICS LTD    08108393

ERNEST THORPE TRANSPORT LIMITED    03779073

GABRIEL TRANSPORT SERVICES LTD    10306753

GH LOGISTICS LTD    09520501

GOLDEN EAGLE EXPRESS LTD    12433039

GSD LOGISTICS LIMITED    11642715

HARMONY DELIVERY TRADE LTD    09751458

HGV DRIVER RECRUIT LTD    12130216

HK LOGISTICS LIMITED    09756957

H LIGHT HAULAGE LTD     07711052

KANDOLA KURIERS LIMITED    08824131

KINGSTOWN FOOD DISTRIBUTION LTD    10931064

KRZYSZTOF SZCZEPANIAK TRANSPORT LTD.    10521094

LAMBERTS COACHES (BECCLES) LIMITED    02053258

LEADER FREIGHT LIMITED    04128245

LEANCA EXPRESS DELIVERY LTD    11879114

LINAS LOGISTIC SERVICES LTD    09610506

M&M LOGISTICS (NOTTINGHAM) LTD    08198177

PRIMO COURIERS LTD    12193897

PJT EXPRESS LIMITED    10596505

RJG HAULAGE LIMITED    07448047

SILVER LINING COURIERS LIMITED    08067625

S J MURFIN TRANSPORT LIMITED    04939518

SSK LOGISTICS LTD    09902059

SWEENEY CIVIL ENGINEERING & HAULAGE LTD    12005618

TAMAR COURIERS LTD    05462518

THE MUSIC SHIPPING COMPANY LIMITED    05714679

UNITED VEHICLE HIRE LTD    09038620

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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Comment: time for Labour and the Conservatives to address the elephant in the room – Brexit continues to damage the economy and many businesses

By Harry Mottram: Both the Tories of Rishi Sunak and the Labour Party of Kier Starmer are in denial about Brexit and the way it has hit travel and trade. By any measure it has been a disaster for the UK economy with even the Government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility have assessed the economy to be down by around 4% due to leaving the EU trading block.

Crisis

The political party that is most associated with business has turned its back on trade in an ideological shift to the right driven by a Little Englander mentality and a belief history can be turned back to pre-Common Market times. It hasn’t worked. Since 2016 and the narrow referendum victory we have seen businesses closing operations in the UK and moving them to the continent, a political crisis in Northern Ireland, recruitment problems in a variety of sectors and travel restrictions for tourists and businesspeople. And as for the promises of lower prices, higher wages and the UK becoming the Singapore of the Atlantic – forget it. And I haven’t mentioned the £250 million a week for the NHS that was emblazoned on a bus during the referendum campaign.

Blame

Advocates of Brexit have found a range of things to blame for its failures – from Covid to Putin and from Remainers to the EU itself. From Project Fear to Project Reality the Brexit promised by the likes of Gove and Johnson have not materialised – and the blame lies at the door of the Government as it was their business deal that was brokered.

Schengen 

What to do? The recently floated idea of a Switzerland style deal with the EU was the first sensible notion floated by insiders in Whitehall. If you travel from France into the land of the Cuckoo Clock there are no obvious border controls since it’s a member of the Schengen Area. Everyday people commute to work without passport checks between the two countries and although there are some checks these are minimal – unless you are from the UK of course. Joining the Schengen zone is one obvious way to improve travel – not just for tourists but for workers which would help alleviate recruitment in the UK in hospitality, farming, medical and the logistic sectors.

2024

Only the Lib Dems, Scottish Nationalists and other smaller political parties like the Green Party are in favour of rejoining the EU and unless there is a political earthquake they are unlikely to form the next Government. However, if Labour win the expected 2024 election then according to their current position they don’t plan to rejoin but instead would negotiate a ‘better Brexit.’

New deal

The most obvious thing to do – if our two main political parties had any backbone – would be to square with the public and business and outline the facts: Brexit hasn’t delivered. And prepare the ground to either rejoin the EU or negotiate a halfway house with an improved deal. Whatever they decide, being in denial of the elephant in the room must end – and Britain’s economy, travel and trade needs to be put first instead and honesty must replace ideology.

Harry Mottram is a freelance jounalist who supplies news stories to ICSM. His views are not necessarily those of ICSM. For details of his work visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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ICSM Business News: bus companies fall into administration across the UK as economic pressures mount up

By Harry Mottram: Last month Bournemouth’s Yellow buses stopped running after the company ceased trading – but it isn’t the first public transport operator to collapse this year.

Yellow Buses was the trading name of Bournemouth Transport Limited, appointed Simon Rowe and Rachel Hotham of professional services firm Milsted Langdon as joint administrators at the end of July who then pulled the plug on the city’s bus service.

It left a string of supplies from diesel wholesalers to cleaners and office suppliers out of pocket and the staff of 300 out of work. Many of the drivers were taken on by rival company More Bus but it means many routes have now been axed meaning a hit to the local economy with people unable to shop or go to work and having to find alternative transport or stay at home.

One supplier told ICSM that there had been problems in getting paid for months by Yellow Buses with overdue invoices and a reluctance to invest in an ailing infrastructure. But the collapse is not the first in the industry this year with HCT Group slashing services across the country in a desperate bid to stay afloat this summer. The social enterprise transport group has grown to be a nationwide operator since the 1980s but has been closing down services in Bristol, Yorkshire and London as they struggle to survive.

The hit most transport firms took during Covid has continued with a fall in passenger numbers as some customers opt to work from home or simply retire early. However, overheads such as fuel have increased along with interest rates compounding loans taken out which have seen debts bring down various outfits.

HCT’s Powell’s Bus in Yorkshire went bust in August ceasing 26 routes in Sheffield and Rotherham blaming debts and cash flow on the collapse. Other operators this year to shut up shop include John Keenan & Sons (Darwin Garage) Ltd of Coalhall in Scotland who ceased trading in February, and Mayne Coaches limited of Warrington have also hit the buffers this year.

Previously during the last couple of years largely due to a mix of Covid, Brexit, driver shortages, interest rate hikes, debts and inflation has seen Sea View Coaches in Dorset go bust, Lamberts Coaches of Suffolk, King’s Lynn based East Anglian Holidays Ltd, CT Plus in Yorkshire, Coventry-based transport company Travel de Courcey,  coach tour operator Shearings Holidays, Gibson Direct Ltd, based in Renfrew and many more have all gone west.

Ian Carrrotte of ICSM said it was particularly galling for suppliers who were often ‘led up the garden path’ by clients who were in reality insolvent and who kept promising payment before ceasing trading with no warning. He said: “We saw with Yellow Buses that even the drivers didn’t know they out of a job until they turned up for work. If a firm is in trouble, they owe it to their staff and suppliers to announce trading is difficult and administration is a strong possibility. That allows suppliers to pivot to find new customers and minimise losses and staff to look for new employment. Trading while insolvent is illegal, and many firms seem to be in a grey area of business before the collapse.”

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National newspaper is shamed online by Jack Monroe and other freelance writers who claim they wait months to be paid – while the publication lambasts a culture of late payment

By Harry Mottram: The journalist Jack Monroe (pictured) has touched a raw nerve with scores of freelance writers and photographers after she tweeted in a claim about not be being paid on time by the Daily Telegraph for an article she had written.

In a post this week under a handle @BootstrapCook she wrote: “It appears I’m not the only freelance writer waiting literal years to be paid by the @Telegraph. If they also owe you money, drop the month and year of the article you wrote for them and let’s see if a public collective callout achieves more than dozens of polite invoices did.”

The tweet was quickly responded to self-employed writers and photographers who claimed to have had the same experience with some waiting for payment after years of sending reminders – or worse not being paid at all. James Oswald wrote in reply: “Good luck with that. I wrote them 1200 words that got used in a double page weekend spread a few years back. Never saw a penny.”

The Government’s website spells out the details of the late payment legislation

While professor Neil Martin said he was still waiting to be paid for a 2018 invoice and photographer Phil Robinson said he was waiting for a cheque for a January 2022 invoice. That’s obviously over the expected industry standard of 30 days from the day of invoice.

Why might you ask, does a newspaper who credits itself with being business-friendly and a champion of free enterprise and a supporter of the Conservatives would they not stick to the credit terms of their suppliers? The answer according to Brendan Gallagher who is waiting to be paid for covering the 2008 Olympics is ‘because they could.’

ICSM has no way of knowing if the claims made in the twitter feed are genuine or can be verified as being accurate but the newspaper regularly runs stories supporting prompt payment to its credit.

Jack Monroe is also a campaigner for social justice and champions the low paid and those living in poverty and often appears on TV and radio talk shows in that capacity so it seems odd that of all people the accounts department at the Daily Telegraph would be so slow in paying her. The author of Cooking on a Bootstrap and presenter of BBCTV’s Daily Kitchen Live has a high media profile only enhanced when she took the right-wing columnist Katie Hopkins to court over a libellous comment, winning substantial damages.

Ironically The Daily Telegraph has published articles recently by Dafydd Llewellyn, managing director of UK small and medium business at Concur on ‘It’s Time to Confront Britain’s late-payment Culture’ in 2017, and in 2004 Richard Tyler’s piece on ‘how the UK late payment culture is till thriving.’ And the newspaper has also claimed to campaign in favour of the Prompt Payment Code shaming firms that pay late by naming them.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM whose business group is dedicated to fighting late payment said there is often a disconnect between those who commission work and those who run the accounts section and it was always a good policy of having a good relationship with whoever signs off payments.

He said: “There are some basic rules to follow – firstly get something in writing if you are commissioned – ideally a purchase order signed by the editor or staffer. On your invoice and statement have your credit terms such as 30 days together with a reference to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 which allows for 8% interest a year to be added to the overdue money.

“ICSM has hundreds of freelancers as members, and we offer free legal letters and also a micro debt service plus a debt collection service. Chasing up late payment through the courts can be time consuming and stressful so joining ICSM and using our knowledge saves time and heart ache. Every year we settle hundreds of over-due accounts for members from less than a £100 to tens of thousands.”

He said that due to the increase in late payments to freelance writers, illustrators and photographers from their clients ICSM is offering free membership for 2022.

ICSM has approached The Daily Telegraph for a comment.

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Huge rise in insolvencies as firms struggle with debts and repaying Covid loans

By Harry Mottram: With furlough gone and covid loans overdue thousands of businesses are struggling to survive and hundreds collapsing every month. The effect on the economy cannot be underestimated as inflation edges towards double digits, interest rates rise and the continuing after effects of Brexit and Covid add to the woes.

The latest government figures show that in April 1,991 companies collapsed more than double the figures from 12 months ago and 39% up from 2019 for April of that year.

The Insolvency Service said: “In April 2022 there were 1,777 Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs), more than double the number in April 2021 and 74% higher than April 2019. Numbers for other types of company insolvencies, such as compulsory liquidations, remained lower than before the pandemic, although there were three times as many compulsory liquidations in April 2022 compared to April 2021, and the number of administrations was 51% higher than a year ago.”

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said the figures mirrored information from the credit intelligence group’s members as anecdotal stories emerge of late payment and firms entering administration such as the YM Group in Yorkshire.

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Reforming Insolvency Laws ‘can’t come soon enough’ as a court shuts down rogue Individual Voluntary Arrangement firm

By Harry Mottram: The customers of Vanguard Insolvency Practitioners (IVA) had no idea what they were being charged for as they commissioned the company to help them to negotiate their debts with creditors.

ICSM said the companies that used the IVA suffered a second piece of bad luck as not only were they in debt and struggling to survive but then were charged huge fees that had no details as to what they were for.

The Insolvency Service were tipped off that all was not right with the actions of the Vanguard Insolvency Practitioners and after investigations they took legal action against the firm eventually winding up the firm and its associates.

The Government’s Insolvency Service said in a statement: “The court heard that Vanguard was a ‘volume’ Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) provider that enabled people in debt to come to an arrangement with their creditors to pay all or part of their debts. Vanguard charged customers a fee for facilitating their arrangements, which were supervised by Vanguard’s licensed insolvency practitioner.”

The Insolvency Service said that Vanguard traded from 2016 and used third-party suppliers to help administer the IVAs and realise debtors’ assets. By April 2020 Vanguard had more than 14,000 IVA cases under its management. Investigators found that between August 2018 and June 2020, Vanguard made payments to various third-party suppliers totalling almost £9 million from their customers’ estates under the guise of expenses or disbursements.

They said: “Some of the third parties under a fee sharing arrangement would then make payments to MDN Consultancy and KIS Financial Consultancy, who were connected to Vanguard through close personal or family relationships. Further enquiries discovered that Vanguard’s licensed insolvency practitioner, responsible for overseeing the IVAs, did not properly explain to customers what their fees were being used for. Investigators concluded that Vanguard’s practices lacked transparency as did the activities of its licensed insolvency practitioner.”

Ian Carrotte said that reforms to the insolvency industry currently under review by the Government could not come soon enough as there were regular incidents of ‘sharp practice.’

Claire Entwistle, Assistant Director of Investigation and Enforcement Services for the Insolvency Service, said: “Following a complex and lengthy investigation, the court recognised the severity of Vanguard and the connected companies’ activities before closing them down for good. This sends a strong message to volume IVA providers that if they do not deal with their cases properly and there is evidence of abuse, we will take strong action to protect customers and stop them.

“The winding up petitions have not affected the position of any of the IVAs previously under Vanguard’s control. These were taken on by another provider some time ago and consumers should continue to make payments in accordance with the terms of their agreement. Any customers who are concerned should get in touch with their IVA provider in the usual way.”

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Concerns mount over the future of Lettershop as the landlord steps in at the printing firm’s Leeds site following the collapse of YM Group

The last month has seen one of Britain’s largest printing empires collapse into administration amongst recriminations, bitterness and the loss of millions of pounds, writes Harry Mottram.

One of the last parts of the YM Group that escaped the initial collapse has its future now in question after the landlord of Leeds-based Lettershop took possession of the factory site.

Writing for the trade website Print Week, journalist Jo Francis reported: “On 1 May an enforcement notice was posted on the factory stating that Learmonth Property Investment Co had entered the Whitehall Park site in accordance with its powers under clause 5.1 of the lease.

“Printweek understands that over the weekend Paragon Group – widely viewed as the most likely future owner of Lettershop – has been working urgently with FRP Advisory and the landlord to come up with a solution to the situation. It’s not known how much work in progress is effectively trapped in the factory.”

The reporter added: “Vehicular access to the site was also blocked off.” And: “A source close to the situation said they believed Lettershop was months behind with the rent.”

The trade publication has followed the demise of the YM Group with interest due to its size and the shadow of an even larger collapse of a similar company a few years ago when Polestar went under. The reverberations of that calamity also echo with YM as the company took over the loss making Chantry from Polestar in 2016 without according to Print Week without gaining assurances from the existing customers of an ongoing commitment to work.

ICSM have noted the downfall of the YM Group through its vast network of member companies engaged in the printing industry and its allied sectors as well as their clients who became increasingly concerned over print deadlines not being met.

Joe Francis in a piece on the collapse raised some of the questions of what went wrong. She noted the board of directors had two accountants in the shape of CEO Stephen Goodman and CFO Lee Richardson who one would have been able to spot trouble in advance. Somehow, they didn’t spot until the last minute there wasn’t enough cash to pay the 500 plus workers their wages this spring which heralded the final shut down. There was also the calamity of buying Chantry along with its press when there was not enough business to keep it running and finally the Daily Mail contract that was won only because they pitched an uneconomical price.

Now administrators FRP Advisory are in charge and will make a report to reveal the reasons, which ICSM believes will show a string of poor management decisions. A spokesperson for ICSM said this was a classic case of ego getting in the way of basic business sense which has resulted in suppliers and workers left unpaid.