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Friday, 30 December 2011

Past Times likely to go into administration in 2012

Past Times's owner, Epic Private Equity, have confirmed that they intend to appoint administrators in the New Year.  They have served a notice to appoint administrators in the High Court which will protect the company against legal actions for 10 days.  As such, it is expected that the firm will enter administration in the first week or so of 2012.  It is likely that KPMG will be the administrators.  Past Times made a loss of £1.53m in 2010, on turnover of £46.5m.

Past Times has a over 100 shops and employs over a 1000 people.  Past Times is said to have performed below expectations in the pre-Christmas period.  However, it has a strong brand and it is possible that it will be sold out of administration or it could perhaps go into administration and exit via a CVA.   In fact, Epic bought the company out of administration in 2005 for £7.75 million.   Its other purchase, Wittard of Chelsea, has been doing well with a 3% like for like sales growth.

Despite all the gloom, and the collapse of some high profile names, the Boxing Day sales have been very good according to the shopping centre owners and other retailers.

Hawkin's Bazaar likely to go into administration

Another retailer, Hawkin's Bazaar, and its parent company Tobar Group, have filed intention to appoint administrators last night with Zolfo Cooper likely to be appointed.  The firm has 60 shops and specialises in selling small pocket money like toys.  The company employs 400 full time staff and hundreds more part time staff. This is yet more bad news for the High Street in a week that has already seen D2 Jeans and La Senza in trouble. 

Hawkin's Bazaar used to be a mail order and wholesaler until Primary Capital bought a 50% share in the business for £42 million and moved it onto the High Street.  This was done in the heady days of 2006 and leveraged buyouts.  In the current climate it looks as if this business model is unsustainable.

Many of the other retailers that have gone into administration recently have had a history of difficulties but analysts have been worried that this is the first previously healthy company to have collapsed.  However, moving from the internet and wholesale to the High Street seems, now with the benefit of hindsight, a big mistake...Although, to be fair, toys were one of the early types of goods sold online and competition was very fierce.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

D2 Jeans in administration

D2 Jeans is the first major retailer to have gone into administration since Christmas.  Please read our Scottish Company Rescue Blog for details. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A testimonial from a happy client.

Please see below a testimonial from a happy client.  He sent me this after he took us out for a drink once his CVA had been approved by creditors.  He is genuine when he says that he is happy to have a beer with anyone who is experiencing business problems.  He is based in Surrey.

"Having tried and failed to negotiate a time to pay agreement with HMRC, we got in touch with KSA Group in order to discuss our options on restructuring the debt we had. As a Managing Director responsible for the livelihoods of a group of people I'd spent years working with, this period was fraught with stress, worry and uncertainty. Finding the right partner to help us get back on our feet was singularly the most important decision in our Company's history- and undoubtably by selecting KSA one we got right. Their experience and depth of knowledge of the CVA process was apparent from our first formal meeting, and they were able to deftly guide us through the process. Their people were responsive to our queries, empathetic with the situation we were in, and critically able to develop a document for presentation to creditors that undoubtedly made the difference between failure and success.

On a personal note, being able to trust your advisors to 'handle it' allows you to focus on the business- critical to getting out of the situation. I know first hand the emotional turmoil and stress caused by the threat to your business, and if you are reading this and fancy a pint with someone who has been there and come through it, get in touch with KSA Group and I'd happily meet up for a chat."

December 27th 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas from KSA Group and CompanyRescue

We are closing now (1pm Thursday 22nd December) until after Christmas.

If required please make any urgent calls to Keith Steven on 07974 086779.

We shall be open again on Wednesday 28th December. We all wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Tower 42 Sold

KSA's London office is in Tower 42, Old Broad Street, today news comes that it, Tower 42 that is,  has been sold for £282.5m. I knew we were paying too much rent.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Kall Kwik and Prontaprint in Administration

After struggling for many years Kall Kwik and Prontaprint have failed. Deloitte insolvency practitioners have been appointed as administrators. Sister company On Demand Communications has also failed.

KSA has talked to a number of disgruntled franchisees over the last couple of years, we will be happy to take calls again to answer any questions. Meanwhile read our guide to administration here

Monday, 19 December 2011

How to help your clients in 2012

If you have a client call you up in 2012 saying they are really struggling and have just received a winding up petition what will you do? 

a)   Say;  "I am sorry to hear of their situation but we are not insolvency practitioners so can't really help"

b)   Say; "please pay my bill first and then I can talk to you."

c)  Request an insolvency toolkit from KSA group, if you haven't already got one, and discover how you can stop your client and perhaps others going into liquidation and not paying your bill.

C is the right answer!

Our insolvency toolkit will demystify the jargon and help you understand all the options open to a struggling business, which, by the way, is not just administration or liquidation!

The toolkit will also show how you can earn EXTRA income from a client who is being rescued by us by providing services that are essential in any turnaround situation. 

If you need urgent advice we will talk to all advisors for no charge.  To request a toolkit then please send an email to or for urgent advice on insolvency issues then call us on 0800 9700539 or 07974 086779

We have huge amounts of resources online as well at

Christmas Opening Hours

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy 2012!

We wish all of our friends and clients a very happy and peaceful Christmas break:

KSA Group Business Hours Over Christmas;

Our offices will be closed on Thursday 22nd December at 1pm. In 2012 we will open on Tuesday 3rd January at 8-30am.

Emergency numbers: Call 0800 9700539 and leave a message. Or for any very urgent enquiries, please call Keith Steven on 07974 086779 ( Keith is happy to take calls from worried directors or their advisers).

Don't forget, there are hundreds of free guides, flowcharts, whitepapers, case studies and ideas to turnaround struggling companies at

Or if you need to close the business try

HMV faces a difficult 2012

HMV group have announced a further sharp fall in profits that has seen its shares fall again.  The business has been struggling in the face of increased competition from the internet and the supermarkets.
HMV, which have lost 87pc of their value over the 12 months, fell 5pc to 3.68p in early trading on Monday.  The company has said that it may sell its live music business to raise funds.  The banks have been supportive and lent a further £220m in June to keep the company going.  The banks have also been supportive of Thomas Cook lending them a further £200m.  The question is how long can the company hold on.

The management have appeared to have taken on board the seriousness of their situation and have tried to adapt with sell offs, refits and store closures.  Their new store format, which is being rolled out, where they sell more hardware such as MP3 players, headphones etc has been a big success with sales up 42%.  As such, they could still turnaround the business as it has a much loved brand.

Another factor in their favour is over half of their 725 stores have leases expiring in the next 5 years. So if they can hold on they should be able to drive a hard bargain with their landlords.

A CVA could be an option and the company said earlier in the year that it was not ruling it out.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Retail Sales in Further Fall

In more bad news for the High Street it appears that retail sales have fallen more than expected in November by 0.4% compared to last year and 0.7% compared to October.  Also there are early indications of a fall in footfall in December.  It is not surprising that some larger retails like La Senza, Peacocks and Blacks are needing to take drastic action.

Unfortunately, there are more squeezes coming on the consumer in 2012 next year with the changes to taxes and benefits.  Funnily enough it is quite complicated and the full list of changes can be seen here.  Generally, the biggest ones are the change of indexing from RPI to CPI and some changes to tax credits.  2013 will see means tested child benefit which will take alot of money out of the pockets of stay at home mums who have a high earning partner.    This could cause more problems for coffee shops etc in the high streets of affluent towns.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

La Senza in Administration

Update:  La Senza, the lingerie retailer, finally went into administration yesterday but 1100 jobs were saved when the Arabian chain Alshaya bought 60 stores.  The process was in effect a pre pack administration.   The firm has revenues of £140m and employed some 2,400 people.   84 Stores have been closed by the administrator.

Last month we said;

"We blogged on the difficulties the company faced back in August and predicted that the September quarter day would be the crunch time but it looks as if it is now the looming December quarter day that is precipitating the move.  Either way, the firm is going to have to shed many of its stores to survive.  Any insolvency procedure such as administration or CVA will allow them to do this.  However, there is the added complication of which stores are leased by La Senza and which are leased by Contessa which were brought into the group in 2004."

This news comes in so soon after the collapse of Barratts shoes.  All this comes as no surprise as consumer spending slows.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Battersea Power Station Owners in Administration

Battersea Power Station, one of London's most famous landmarks, has been placed into administration with Ernst & Young as administrators to the subsidiary companies of the Irish group, Real Estate Opportunities (REO) that own the power station.   Lloyds Banking Group and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) are owed some £325m which was due to be repaid at the end of August.  The REO had offered £262m for the debt but, as the charge holder, NAMA and the banks have decided to appoint and see what is offered. 

The banks and NAMA will now launch a formal sales process to find a developer for the south west London site, with interest expected to come from Chelsea Football Club, Malaysian property company SP Setia and British developers, such as Berkeley and Development Securities.

Battersea Power station sits in the middle of a vast 40-acre, plot right on the Thames, just opposite the fashionable district of Chelsea. Many developers agree it is an attractive proposition — if it were not for the giant brick shell that must be preserved.      The costs of perserving the building is very high as the chimneys may not be structurally sound and thousands of bricks and tiles are deteriorating. 

There is planning permission for a £5.5bn scheme with 3,400 new homes and 10m sq ft of commercial space.

Bankrupt director sentenced to 16 months

Paul David Henstone,  has been sentenced to 16 months in prison as he was acting as a director while bankrupt and committing fraud by getting an employee to be registered as a director without their knowledge.  He then used this employees details to obtain credit from suppliers.

Mr Henstone has also been disqualified from acting as a company director for five years by The Insolvency Service and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
When he became a bankrupt the first time he controlled a company called Blackdown Construction ltd from which he did not resign as required by law.  Then Mr Henstone registered a new company, Roc Construction and Roofing Ltd (Roc) where he committed the fraud in order to hide his control of the company.  Roc was wound up on 30 September 2008 owing £15,000.

Deputy Chief Investigation Officer Glen Wicks from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said:-  "This man is a serial cowboy builder who for many years has created mayhem throughout the West Midlands and devastated the lives of many people.  People who commit these types of offences need to know that BIS, the Insolvency Service and the courts will crack down on them severely.

Green Flag cancels contracts with small garages

In bad news for small businesses, Green Flag has cancelled 110 contracts with small garages to do rescue and repairs.  Many of the businesses have worked with Green Flag for 20 years.  The firms were given just 30 days notice after the contracts were amended in the Summer from 3 months notice to 1 month notice.  This would appear to be cruel but Green Flag have said that it was all part of the re-tendering process.  This consolidation means that the company is now using 173 instead of 283 operators.  Some larger firms are likely to take up more work.
The rescue and recovery business is struggling as there are more regulations coming into force such as the "Low Emission Zones" that are being brought into London.

Rescue and recovery  garages that are finding that the loss of the  biggest client, Green Flag,  will need to act quickly to ensure their business survives.

We have managers all over the country who can advise on business rescue plans or help close the company cleanly and quickly.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Barratts Shoes in administration again

Barratts and Priceless shoe shop chains collapsed into administration yesterday with some 4000 jobs under threat.  This is the second time in two years that the business has been run by the administrators.  The first time resulted in the closure of 220 of its then 380 stores.  But did the business change enough to stop further losses?

Barratts Priceless has 191 stores and  371 concessions with other retailers.  The administrators, from  Deloitte, said they are looking for a buyer for all or part of the business.

Deloitte restructuring partner Daniel Butters said the tough economic climate had been exacerbated for the business by the unseasonably mild recent weather which had hit sales of new winter lines.

Now there are so many retailers stuggling this recent administration did not really make the news as much was the case earlier in the year.

If you are a struggling retailer and worried about meeting the December rent demand then see our page for retailers.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Autoworks Express Limited Liquidation Notice

KSA Group Insolvency Notice

Meeting of the Creditors of the above named Company will be held at The Park Head Country Hotel and Restaurant, New Coundon, Bishop Aukland, County Durham, DL14 8QB on 6 January 2012 at 11.30 am

Full notice

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Quakle closed for business

Lending money has been in the headlines recently with the furore surrounding pay day loan companies who are charging thousands of percent on loans.  Mind you those loans are meant to be paid off in a few days when your pay comes in.  Banks are in the firing line as well on unauthorized overdraft charges that can amount to thousands of percent as well.

Now it is the turn of the peer to peer lending websites to be in the news.  This is where a savers can lend to a group of borrowers directly at higher interest rates than they would receive on their deposits.

Over the past 18 months, £192million has been switched from savers’ accounts into these websites, which include Zopa, Funding Circle, RateSetter and Yes-Secure

News that Quakle is closed for business has unsettled savers.  Their website says they will need to chase borrowers directly. 

There are two major risks with peer-to-peer lending. The most obvious is that borrowers may not be able to pay so returns may be less.  However by spreading your loans across lots of borrowers the sites have you believe the risk is less. But, of course, if rates are high it is because you are lending to alot of risky borrowers.  The other risk is that the company arranging the loans could fail and you will need to collect the money yourself.  Also such monies are not covered by the compensation scheme.

Blacks Leisure in possible pre pack administration next year

Blacks Leisure, the camping and outdoor wear store group, which announced a profit warning ahead of the Christmas trading period, has made put itself up for sale by way of an announcement to the Stock Exchange. The company said it would "invite offers to support further investment... which is most likely to involve a sale of the company or sale of one or more of the group's brands."

Blacks Leisure came close to going into administration in 2009 which saw it closing over 100 stores by using a company voluntary arrangement to restructure and rescue the business. Although no panacea, the CVA bought time for the company but ultimately management has failed to turn it around.

In our experience change is CRUCIAL before and after a CVA. It is interesting that Blacks has continued to struggle after the CVA despite dumping the poorly performing retail outlets, whilst Go Outdoors has grown quickly to 30 plus stores and gained backing from 3i. Management is usually the difference in turnarounds, one wonders if the business has been run well enough?

Black Leisure had been in talks with its lenders about additional funding. However, if it does not have a successful Christmas trading period then the company may well have to go into a pre pack administration sale

Shares in the company, which have fallen over 96pc in the past year are now very cheap, but bank debts have risen towards £40m, as losses of over £55m have been made in the last 2 years..

Mr Ashley has seen the value of his investment in Blacks fall dramatically since spending more than £50m to acquire a 29.38pc stake in 2006. Sports Direct currently holds 21pc.   Will he bail the company out??

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Value of EFG loans fall despite Government's best efforts

Small businesses have been complaining bitterly that obtaining finance is nearly impossible from the banks.  So we would expect a Government backed loan scheme to have a high take up. 
However, the value of loans secured through Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme designed specifically to  boost lending to small businesses has fallen by 63% during the three months to September compared to two years ago, official figures show.  The scheme means that the government will guarantee 75% of bank loans of between £1000 and £1m. 

Companies drew just £75.5m across 803 loans through the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) compared to £203m spread across 1,921 loans in the same period two years ago.

George Osborne has extended the scheme to businesses with sales of up to £44m when previously it was £25m. 

Several new lenders, including Metro Bank, will be accredited to join the scheme.

An EFG loan can be good value and reasonably quick to process. The investment criteria are perhaps less stringent than non-guaranteed facilities. Capital and or interest holidays can usually be agreed. For distressed companies this can be a lifeline while they return to profitability.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said its members are reporting that banks are giving companies mixed messages about the EFG and its availability.   In many instances it appears that the banks do not want even the risk of 25% of the loan and will always prefer security against assets such as as the borrowers home.

Andrew Cave, chief spokesman of the FSB, said: “Our members are going into banks and not getting a conclusive response to questions about the EFG. There seems to be some confusion about the criteria and which businesses can access it.”

Monday, 5 December 2011

KSA Group Insolvency Notices

Sharkey Aluminium Systems Limited in liquidation

A meeting of creditors will be held at the Hampton by Hilton, Birmingham Star City, Cuckoo Road, Heartlands Parkway, Nechells, Birmingham, B7 5SB on 16 December 2011 at 11.30 am

Full notice below

Hughes Jones Farrell Limited

A meeting of creditor will be held at  The Hubworking Centre, 5 Wormwood Street, London, EC2M 1RQ on 19 December 2011 at 11.15 am for the purposes mentioned in Section 99 to 101 of the said Act.

DTZ in pre pack administration

DTZ, once one of the most respected surveying firms in the property industry, has been sold in a pre pack administration to Australian engineering firm UGL as we predicted in our blog of 8th November.  The firms shares fell to as low as 3p last week from an historic high of £8 in 2007 when the firm was valued at £500m

Ernst & Young, which arranged the pre-pack, said DTZ's assets had been sold  for £77.5m, "plus an adjustment for cash"...

The good news is that some 4,700 jobs have been saved.  UGL has been able to buy the assets of DTZ and the staff at a relatively low price given that a previous deal valued the firm at £162m which subsequently fell through due to the Eurozone crisis.   Consequently UGL has been able enhance their standing in Asia as DTZ has held top position in the region.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Number of winding up petitions advertised falls in last two months

The number of winding up petitions that have been advertised in October and November has fallen in 2011 compared to the same period in 2010 by 18%

2010 Petitions advertised by month

October  - 717
November   - 1117

Total 1834

2011 Petitions advertised by month

October  - 640
November - 859

Total 1499

September and August of 2011 saw a slight rise on the same period last year of some 8%.  This rise is fed through to the statistics published today by Experian that showed an increase in insolvencies in October by guess what....? 10%.  The hearing to wind the company up would have most likely been in October following advertisments of petitions in September.

As HMRC accounts for over 60% of all winding up petitions this is a good indication of their activity.  However, it is quite clear from talking to businesses that other forms of debt recovery by HMRC are being used, most particularly distraint.

It will be interesting to see what the statistics will be in the next few months.  Despite all the bad news we may well be seeing a fall in the number of business failures.  However, a break up of the Euro would change all that and many businesses are hanging on until after Christmas.

Blogged by Robert Moore

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Saab GB in administration

Saab GB, the UK arm of the Swedish car manufacturer, has appointed administrators.

With immediate effect, David Dunckley and Daniel Taylor of Grant Thornton UK LLP have been appointed joint administrators of Saab GB according to a press release.

Saab GB, employs 55 people in Milton Keynes and distributes the cars and parts to a 58 dealers across the UK of which 20 are "Saab only" sites. Saab City, a wholly owned subsidiary of Saab GB employing 65 people, operates two Saab motor dealerships, one in Wapping and a smaller site in Fulham
A buyer is being sought for the company.

A Saab GB customer hotline has been set up on 0845 300 9593 or visit for more details.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Looking for trustworthy insolvency advice?

If your business is in difficulty then you are stressed and worried.  How do you ensure that you are getting good unbiased quality advice on how to get yourself out of your difficulties?

Please see our new page that lists the various dubious tactics and claims made by some (thankfully small in number) unscrupulous traders in our industry, especially online.

If anyone has come across other bad practices then please send us a comment and we will add it to our list. 

George Osborne's Autumn Statement

This was going to be a tough one and with all the gloom and doom around George is going to need to give the economy some stimulus for growth.

The main headline is that public sector pay rises will be capped at 1%  for another 2 years after the current freeze ends.  This is going to enflame the already angry public sector workers further who are going on strike tomorrow over pensions.  I guess the unions chose the date of the 30th as they knew that the Autumn statement was not going to be popular.

Other main/important points so far are
  • The right to buy is coming back with the ability for occupier of social housing to buy their houses at a 50% discount.
  • Business finance partnership will have £1bn to help mid sized firms  ( we await the details )
  • Credit easing of £40bn with the aim to bring down interest rates by 1% for small firms.
  • Infrastructure spending to increase including a new rail link between Oxford, Bedford and Milton Keynes
  • Benefits will increase by 5.2% as per the September inflation rates.
  • Tax credits to be cut
  • Fuel and train fares increases less than originally planned
  • More tax breaks for investing in businesses.

Not much direct help for small businesses so far except the business rates holiday for small firms which is being extended to April 2013.  Small firms need lower business rates period!  The credit easing is good in principle but not sure how well it will work in practice

Monday, 28 November 2011

DebtDr owes clients £600,000

According to an investigation by the BBC the Somerset-based DebtDr has taken £600,000 of clients monies that was supposed to be protected and was to be offered to the clients' creditors as full and final settlement for a small fee. In many cases, clients borrowed the money to give to DebtDr to use in its negotiations with creditors.

Liquidators are investigating the company, which ceased trading in April.

Mr Hockley, who was previously made bankrupt ran DebtDr as the trading name of Hermes Financial Solutions Ltd.

The company closed down and Mr Hockley disappeared.  However, it appears the BBC's "Inside Out" programme ( to be shown tonight  7.30pm BBC1 ) have tracked him down to a nightclub which he is helping to run. 

Hermes Financial Solutions was wound up in July of this year and a liquidator appointed.

The liquidator, Jon Law, told the BBC: "This investigation has now substantially completed and it is clear that around £600,000 of client money belonging to more than 80 clients of the company has been used improperly and is no longer held by the company."

Lime Foods Design Limited Liquidation Notice

Lime Foods Design Limited

A meeting of creditors of the above company will be held at the offices of KSA Group Ltd, Tower 42, Level 7, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HN on 7 December 2011 at 12.00 pm.

See the full notice below

Friday, 25 November 2011

Can I strike off a company if it is insolvent?

In short, no you cannot.  It is one of the conditions that a company can only be "struck off" the companies house register if it is not insolvent.  Or more precisely it is not subject to a formal insolvency procedure and any creditors can object to the striking off.   So, for all intents and purposes it is not advisable to try and strike off a company that has substantial sized debts.

Please read our new page on striking off a limited company

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cosalt plc in debt talks

Shares in Cosalt fell 36% yesterday when the company announced that it did not have enough working capital to last the month.  The company said it had just £900,000 of banking facilities.  The company supplies safety equipment and protective workwear to offshore drillers in the North Sea.

Cosalt said that it was looking to appoint restructuring advisors to try and sell off assets or refinance its debts.  The debts of the company amount to £12.3m.  The chairman and biggest shareholder, David Ross, is in talks to buy the company and has offered £405,000 to take it into private ownership.  The value of the net assets would need to be independently valued to avoid accusations of there being a transaction at an undervalue and the business will need to be marketed according to SIP16 rules.

One option for the company might be to do a pre pack administration with the company being able to write off some of its debts.

This is the second publicly listed company that has asked for more money this week.  Of course the big one was Thomas Cook who have asked for a further £100m from their bankers to avoid them breaching their banking covenants.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

HMRC to demand PAYE deposits in 2012

From April 2012 HMRC will have the power to demand deposits from new companies for PAYE and class 1 NIC contributions.

It is expected that they will ask for PAYE deposits for the same reasons as they currently do for VAT deposits

Directors of the new company have failed to comply with tax legislation in the past and have a record of building up arrears are some of the reasons given.

Read our new page on PAYE security deposits

Monday, 21 November 2011

CBI Conference Today - Prime Minister announces £400m for housebuilding

With the backdrop of falling stockmarkets, low growth, budget deficits and restless populations in the Eurozone, US and the Middle East, the CBI conference has much to talk about!

Basically, the government needs to be seen to be promoting growth and David Cameron has just unveiled a £400m fund to "unblock" housing projects that are "shovel ready" but have been unable to go ahead because of a lack of funding.  The plan is  they can provide jobs, growth, and affordable housing. So an ambitious plan then.  £400m though, is pretty small in the grand scheme of things.  Many builders have gone into administration as they have been unable to complete projects or margins have been squeezed.  However, such a scheme does run the risk of throwing good money after bad.  Many would prefer to see old stock renovated or house prices just coming down in value to make them affordable. 

The government has also pledged to underwrite the risk of owning a home by offering to underwrite potential losses on a proportion of mortgages.  The government's record on these sort of schemes has been patchy as takeup has been slow or processing them has been buried under red tape but we will see how this works.

Blogged by Robert Moore of KSA Group

Friday, 18 November 2011

Jam IT Media Creditors Voluntary Liquidation Notice

KSA Group Insolvency Notices

Meeting of the Creditors of the above named Company will be held at the offices of KSA Group Ltd, Tower 42, Level 7, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HN on 29 November 2011 at 12.15 pm

See the full notice below

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Retail sales in unexpected rise

Retail sales are one of the two statistics that seem to go against expected outcomes,  the other being house prices.  The mood of everyone seems to be darkening due, no doubt, to the following; 

Eurozone crisis
Record youth unemployment past the psychologically important 1m
Rise in companies going into administration (third quarter only however)
Consumer confidence falling
Low growth

BUT retail sales have shown a surprise rise!  In fact, sales volumes in small stores rose 5.3% year-on-year - the biggest increase since November 2004 and there was a 0.4% rise overall.  Of course, inflation should be taken into consideration but the rise has been attributed to price cuts and early Christmas promotions.  It just goes to show that the UK shopper loves a bargain. 

Many retailers are reporting that sales are flat and they are struggling but many of these are publically listed so have to give trading updates. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

SeaFrance in Liquidation

SeaFrance has been unable to stay afloat.  A court in Paris rejected two bids to save the firm that employs more than a thousand people.  As such the business has been put into liquidation as of today.

The court said the company's Calais to Dover services would continue until January 28 next year and that new bids to take it over would be accepted until December 12, but that the existing offers were unacceptable.

One offer, the court said, would result in too many job losses which it felt would trigger further industrial action that would damage the struggling firm.  The other was put forward by the union but the court felt that there was no capital to finance such a project. It also said that the offer for the ferries was too low.

The 2008 financial crisis also hit the firm hard, and last year it shed 700 jobs and was put into receivership. It currently employs 880 permanent staff, and 200 on short-term seasonal contracts.

Of course the case of SeaFrance will be under European Law so we cannot comment on the details.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New pages to help law firms now on

If you are a law firm, do any of the following apply?

Is your practice experiencing cashflow problems?
Are you worried that insolvency may affect your ability to practice in the future?
You don’t want to risk the SRA Intervention
Are you concerned about paying your professional indemnity premiums?
Could Legal Services Act (LSA) be a threat to your business model?

If so then you should take a look at our Help for Lawyers Pages

On these pages we will help you distill all of these problems and the options available into a recovery plan. It will set out the preferred non insolvency route and a one or two pronged back up approach.

As KSA Group were behind the first company voluntary arrangement (CVA) for a LLP law firm in 2008, we know a thing or two about fixing these problems, setting out a recovery plan and driving the business forward. We are currently helping a number of law practices and felt that we should launch some new pages setting out the options for those practices that might be struggling.

Read our Help for Lawyers Pages here

Compulsory liquidations up in the construction sector

According to the Insolvency Service, the number of construction businesses that have been wound up by the courts  has increased by 24% with 244 construction companies entering compulsory liquidation in the third quarter of this year.

There have been almost 1000 construction companies going out of business in the past three months.
The number of construction companies entering administration has risen from 85 to 94 representing a 10.5% over the last three months and this is up 38% from last year, while construction companies taking out company voluntary arrangements were up 30% quarter on quarter and were up 50% compared to the same quarter last year.

Recently there has been a flurry of construction companies closing down such as Holloway White Allom and Linford Construction.  Despite an upturn in construction activity many contracts are being won on negative margins.  As such the sector has difficult times ahead.

We have rescued a number of building companies over the years by using company voluntary arrangements.  Read our CVA case study

Monday, 14 November 2011

HMRC distraint actions on the rise

According to figures produced by the law firm McGrigors, the number of companies whose assets have been seized for late payment of tax has risen fourfold in the last two years.   In the twelve months to April 2011 HMRC have distrained  7,004 up from 1,675 in the year to April 2009.

We are hearing of more and more instances where this is happening.  HMRC have lost their preferred creditor status so are ranked at the same level as trade creditors.  In effect they are unsecured creditors.  However, as any debt to HMRC is regarded as not in dispute they have other powers to collect their debt.  They can take possession of goods under a distraint notice without needing to go to court.

HMRC have said that they do not use this power where there are historical debts and the company is otherwise viable.

In any distraint action the bailiff cannot take "tools of the trade" as this would mean that the business is irrecoverably damaged.

So, if you have a distraint threat or have been visited by an HMRC officer or Bailiff , then you must ACT. In the event that the business is not viable going forward call us and we can put the company into liquidation quickly and lower the risk of personal liability.

KSA Group Insolvency Notices

Pogue Construction Limited in Liquidation
Meeting of the Creditors of the above named Company will be held at the offices of KSA Group Ltd, Tower 42, Level 7, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HN on 29 November 2011 at 10.45 am

See the full notice of liquidation below

RAM Express Limited in Liquidation

Meeting of the Creditors of the above named Company will be held at The Great Barr Hotel, Pear Tree Drive, Newton Road, Great Barr, West Midlands, B43 6HS on 1 December 2011 at 2.15 pm

See the full notice below

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lifehouse Spa in administration

Lifehouse Spa an exclusive establishment frequented by celebrities has gone into adminstration having only opened last December.  The £30million spa employs 157 people and they have been told that their jobs are not under threat

The Spa is to stay will  open as normal, but the administrators at Grant Thornton UK LLP, have taken over the running of the Lifehouse and have put it up for sale.

In a statement, the company assured customers that any bookings made and vouchers sold prior to the administration will be honoured.   The company also hopes that the Christmas period will be boost to the cashflow.

Lifehouse has 89 bedrooms, 35 treatment rooms, a gym, swimming pool and is situated in 130 acres of grounds in Thorpe.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Phone Trouble in London

Just to let our customers know that there is a problem with our London phone number 020 7877 0050 today. 

If you cannot get through the first time then you can normally connect on the second attempt.  Engineers are currently trying to fix the problem. 

If you are unsuccessful then please call our head office on 01289 309431 and they will be able to get a message to us.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Argus Care in Administration

Argus Care Group based in Aberdeen which provides residential care at homes in Scotland and the North of England has gone into administration.  The firm has 12 care homes and employs 800 people.  The homes have 500 residents.

Bryan Jackson, of PKF who are handling the administation, said: “We will continue to operate the homes as normal while they are in administration.  He added that there were no plans to close any of the homes or make people redundant...   They have also said that continuity of care is a top priority and that everyone will be informed of developments.

So what is likely to happen?  It depends on the situation, but Southern Cross that recently went into administration may offer some indications.  In Southern Cross's case the landlords  of the group, who were care providers themselves, had to takeover the running of the homes and landlords that didn't had to accept big cuts in the rents.  Of course, the group could be sold and some residents may be relocated.

The absence of bad press on how residents have fared under Southern Cross offers some comfort for those relatives of those in the care of Argus Care.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Pre-pack Administration for DTZ?

Share price of DTZ the listed surveyors collapsed 85% yesterday as shareholders warned that any sale will not yield any return for shareholders.

Does this mean that any buyer will want to take on the secured debt, which is north of £106m due next year? Perhaps a  pre-pack administration is on the cards?

In any event the company's loss of value from £500m over 5 years is eye watering.

Monday, 7 November 2011

AC Yule in Administration

AC Yule, which supplies glass, architectural aluminium and PVC throughout Scotland was placed into administration on Monday.  KPMG are the administrators.

AC Yule has bases in Aberdeen, Elgin, Livingston, Forfar, Glasgow and Boldon, near Sunderland and employs 300 people.  According to reports staff at Aberdeen and Elgin have already been told that they are to be made redundant.

In July this year, the firm shed around 120 jobs after shutting its fabrication factory in England, citing a slowdown in contracting work throughout the construction industry.

A number of suppliers to the construction industry have found themselves in difficulty.

If you are  a struggling business based in Scotland then talk to us as administration or liquidation is not the only option. There is only one company driving the company rescue culture in Scotland. - KSA Group. 

Call our Scottish number 0131 242 0081 and speak to an advisor today

Friday, 4 November 2011

Time for this clown Cable to go?

The fact that the UK has a "Business" Secretary who seems at odds with the main business constituency he is supposed to look after, is bad enough. Add to that his apparent inability to understand the VAT threshold - this is the amount of sales where you start charging and recovering VAT on sales over £73,000pa, which us lowly SME business folk have to deal with, or risk a fine.

Then add the staggering incompetence of his local constituency office, whose intelligent employees failed to shred confidential local constituents waste.

Time for this incompetent clown to be replaced if he, as I expect, doesn't have the dignity to resign.

PS Vince here is a link to the guide page of the HRMC that shows what the VAT threshold is, yes your government publishes this!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Hearts Winding Up Order Avoided

According to the BBC, The Scottish Premier League Club Hearts has paid £500,000 to HMRC to avoid a winding up order being granted today.  The club had similar winding up orders served against it in 2009 and November 2010 over unpaid tax to HMRC. Both were settled after the club paid the bills.

However the club has still not paid wages that were due on the 16th October.  The players union has officially complained to the SPL. 

HMRC have taken a hard line against football clubs but the clubs still seem to take things to the wire. HMRC are challenging the Football Creditors Rule which in effect allows players and the leagues to be paid ahead of other creditors such as suppliers and HMRC in the event that the club goes into administration.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Company Debt Advice

Many businesses are doing better since 2008 but all the while they are being held back by an historic debt.  The reasons for the debt may have disappeared or the problem that caused it may have been sorted.  However, it still makes its presence felt but making it hard to arrange new finance and generally draining cashflow.

KSA Group can help companies by using rescue techniques such as CVAs, pre-pack administrations, trading administrations.  We can also negotiate on your behalf with HMRC to arrange time to pay VAT, PAYE and other taxes.

Have a look at our new page on company debt advice which highlights a number of reasons why businesses find themselves in debt and what can be done about it.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

MF Global (UK) in Administration

The UK division of MF Global has gone into administration, meaning some 700 staff face losing their jobs.
MF Global, a broker of commodities and derivative futures products, has filed for Chapter 11 protection following its exposure to indebted countries in the Eurozone. This will mean that the UK division of the business will be wound down.

It is understood that all 725 staff at London's Canary Wharf will eventually be made redundant although Administrator Richard Fleming of KPMG said it would not be not be viable to operate MF Global UK on a standalone basis.

He added: "Against the backdrop of challenging market conditions and the eurozone crisis, the financial position of MF Global UK has significantly deteriorated in recent weeks."

The company emerged out of hedge-fund operator Man Group in 2007.

MF Global collapse has been felt across the whole financial system and some commodity exchanges around the world have been effected.  Most notably the Australian Commodities Market has been shut down by ASX meaning their is no trading market in wool or grain down under until further notice....!  MF Global had an 80% share of this market.

All this news about large financial collapses adds to the unease being presently felt.   No doubt other institutions will start to have cashflow problems too.

GDP has grown by 0.5% in the last quarter

GDP has grown by  0.5 percent in the quarter to September as business services and finance showed strong increases.  This was stronger than economists expected.  However, the last quarter of 2011 has not started well with a sharp loss in manufacturing output in October. The instability in the Eurozone will further dent export growth. 

Economists see most of the third quarter growth as a mere rebound from weak growth of 0.1 percent in the second quarter when an extra holiday for the royal wedding and supply-chain disruptions caused by the tsunami in Japan.

Despite all the gloom and doom it is interesting to note that GDP is rising at all and house prices continue to rise, albiet at only 0.4% in the latest statistics.  There appears to be some disconnect between what the average person is  experiencing and the statistics.  House price growth is being driven by the higher priced properties.

The Christmas period will be key to get an idea of how domestic demand is holding up.

Monday, 31 October 2011

MCR bought by Duff & Phelps

MCR, the restructuring and insolvency firm, has been bought by Duff & Phelps, the global financial services and advisory firm, based in New York.  Terms of the deal have not been made public.  For the 12-month period that ended June 30, 2011, MCR earned approximately £21m in revenue, excluding reimbursable expenses.   MCR have 19 Partners and directors and the whole business is being incorporated into Duff & Phelps.

JJB Sports reveals drop in revenue of 17.7%

Troubled retailer JJB Sports has announced  a 17.7% falls in like for like sales at its stores in the 6 months to July 31st.  The company sought agreement with its landlords to close a further 43 stores as an amendment to its earlier company voluntary arrangement.

We have blogged on the JJB CVA before as this arrangement has been used to shut down poorly performing stores for the benefit of the whole company.

So what now for JJB?

The likes of JD Sports and Sports Direct are putting severe pressure on the firm and both of those companies seem to be thriving.  However, JJB Sports did say that the falling revenues were  a result of "selling out old and obsolete stock" and I suppose the saying is that "things will get worse before they get better!" 

In any restructure and rescue plan trading can be tough and sales may well suffer at first as the new structure and disciplines bed in.

That said, Christmas is key and by January/Feb 2012 it will be clearer whether JJB Sports has a better future in 2012.

Friday, 28 October 2011

KSA Group Liquidation Reports

These liquidation reports contains the following;

Notice of our appointment, a report to the creditors outlining the circumstances, a statement of affairs (SOFA), estimated deficiency account, summary of recent financial history, and a list of creditors.

These documents are sent out to all creditors as required.
Please find below the latest published reports

Sequent Power Services Limited 
Tree Frog Studio Limited 
Gasp Recruitment and Training Limited
Foremost Engineering Limited Liquidation
Assets Vin Rouge Limited
Jay Engineering Limited
Phoenia Consultants Limited
Bridgestone Surveyors Limited
Phase Building Service Limited
Early Stage Executive Search Limited
Expansive Media Limited
Walsall Fabrications Limited
B.J Bates Electrical Limited

If you are creditor of one of these companies and have not received a report then please get in touch with our Gateshead office on 0191 482 3343

Thursday, 27 October 2011

CVA and Corporation Issues

Many people worry that if they go into a CVA then they may not be able to carry over tax losses.  This is especially the case if the company is "hived down".  Please see an extract from Keith Rushen of Robinson Rushen's Guide to CVAs and Corporation Tax Issues which highlights the situation in relation to "hive downs".  A copy of which can be downloaded from our new page on CVAs and Corporation Tax
Provided the beneficial ownership of the trade is held as to 75% or more by the same persons within two years after the transfer as before the transfer, the trade is not treated as permanently discontinued nor a new one set up. Trading losses and capital allowances, but not capital losses or non trade losses, may be carried across from the transferor company to the transferee and used against future profits from the trade transferred.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Luminar Group in administration

Following the suspension of shares Luminar Group Holdings Plc has gone into administration.  Read the announcement here.

Luminar Group operates 76 large nightclubs in the UK, The venues are divided into various brands, of which the main ones are Oceana, Liquid and Lava & Ignite.

The company is reportedly facing losses of £188m.  According to their website "Over 11 million people visit a Luminar nightclub every year."

The nightclub was in the news recently following the death of a clubber in an overcrowded club

Norian Beds in Administration

Norian Beds, which has sites in Trowbridge and Bridgewater,  has gone into administration putting 140 jobs at risk.   The business, Norian UK Limited, is a family run firm which has operated for 27 years.  The firms managers claim that the problems at the firm came when Focus DIY went into administration owing them £250,000.  The firm entered into a company voluntary arrangement from 2009 but no doubt the loss of that income made it no longer viable.  The company had a turnover of £18m in 2010.

This is yet another firm with over 100 employees that has gone into administration in the last two weeks.  It is likely there are others that have not been publicised.  In many cases the administrators do not want publicity as it may make it harder to collect money in on behalf of the creditors.

When a large customer goes into administration it is very hard.  So how can you protect yourself?  When dealing with large customers it is difficult to ask for tougher credit terms.  The best approach in this market is do not assume that a large household name customer is by definition a good credit risk.  Look for warning signs of a business in difficulty

If you supply a firm that is in administration look at our help for suppliers pages.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Larger Firms Staving off Insolvency

The number of UK businesses falling down increased in September, but larger firms are showing more resolve than expected, Experian has claimed.
The Insolvency Index, published by Experian, claims that businesses that employ more than 500 people have not fallen down in the same numbers as last September.  In total only 11 large firms became insolvent compared to 14 last September.  Mind you, with such low numbers, I would not want to read too much into the figures.

However, we have noticed an significant increase in the number of businesses with employees numbering in the range of 20-200 in the past 2 weeks which have been put into an insolvency process or simply stopped trading.

I list some below;

Fylde Dairies -  20 employees
Robertsons Interiors - 16 employees
S Robinson and Sons (Steelworks) -118 employees
Trade Manufacturing Facility Ltd (Pallets) - 138 employees
Parry Bowen (Builder)- 150 employees
JGP Engineering (architectural steelwork) - 50 employees
Discover Leisure ( caravan and motorhome retailer) - 70 employees

What is driving this?

The larger companies have been able to cut headcount over the last couple of years without too much impact on their profits. Whereas medium sized firms are operating on slim margins.  In addition, The SME's are perhaps not being supported as much by the banks and we are seeing more aggressive action by HMRC to recover overdue tax.  Many construction related businesses are feeling the pressure also.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Want to dissolve a limited company?

KSA Group have just updated their experts guides and are all available for free on our site at

How to Rescue or Restructure Your Pub, Hotel or Inn Business - 104 pages
How to Turnaround Your Struggling or Insolvent Recruitment Business - 96 pages
The Experts guide on Creditors Voluntary Liquidation - 49 pages
The Experts guide on Company Voluntary Arrangements - 93 Pages
The Experts guide on Members Voluntary Liquidation - 17 Pages

For the first time we are making available our Experts Guide to Dissolving your Limited Company for free.  This contains over 40 pages of invaluable technical advice on how to do this along with letter templates that you need. 

This is normally available via our shop priced at £45.  However for a limited offer we are sending this out for free.  Please supply your email address and phone number to Robert Moore at to get your free copy.

KSA Group's Latest Insolvency Notices

Lifestyles Direct Limited
Creditors Voluntary Liquidation Notice

Timcris Readers Offers Limited
Notice of appointment of administrators

Templar Marketing Services Limited
Notice of appointment of administrators

Pumpkin Tours Limited
Creditors Voluntary Liquidation Notice

MH Legal Limited
Creditors Voluntary Liquidation Notice

Friday, 21 October 2011

Retail statistics of the week

This week has seen a couple of surprising retail statistics.

Almost £1 in every £10 spent by shoppers now involves internet purchases.  Yes that is almost 10%!

Internet purchases of clothing and footwear are up by 21% compared to a year ago, which compares to a 2.1% fall for bricks and mortar outlets.  Internet shopping has now trebled since 2007.

Internet shopping has grown for a number reasons. Cheaper deals online, faster internet connections and a better online experience helped by tablets and smart phones. Oh and it means people don't have to walk as much!

The Office of National Statistics said that the total value of retail sales has grown by 5.4% which is marginally ahead of the latest inflation rate of 5.2%.  This was better than expected.  However, still some stores struggle with the surprise announcement from Argos that showed a significant fall in sales leading to a collapse of profits of 94% in the first 6 months of the year.  The company blamed inflation hurting its lower income customers more than others.

Christmas time will be a make or break sales period for many retailers and they must get their online stores working well and able to deliver!

If you are struggling and are looking for a plan B visit or retailer rescue pages

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Options Utility Services in Administration

Options Utility Services, the Maidenhead-based Utility Contractor, has fallen into administration.   The firm has about 60 staff along with about 200 subcontractors. However, it is continuing to trade without the loss of any jobs.  This is the second utility firm to go into adminstration this week.  Brockwell and Sons from Canvey Island also collapsed with the loss of 100 jobs.

FRP Advisory, the administrators, are looking for a buyer for the business.   They said in a statement that the margins had been squeezed by rising costs which meant that the busines was suffering financially.

Its current big project is seeing it working on the infrastructure for BT OpenReach
If the business is sold then the staff contracts will be taken on under TUPE rules.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Scottish Insolvency Statistics

Scottish insolvency statistics showed a steep rise in compulsory liquidations in the second quarter of this year of 71% compared to the second quarter of last year.

There were 361 notices of Scottish registered companies becoming insolvent or entering receivership in the second quarter of 2011/12. This figure includes 14 receiverships, 252 compulsory liquidations, 95 creditors voluntary liquidations and 57 members voluntary liquidations.

Could some of these companies that had cashflow problems have been saved by a CVA? Possibly. If you want to hear about how CVAs can help Scottish companies then give us a call.

Number of business failures in steep rise

The latest figures for Q3 from Equifax have shown that the number of companies "failing" is up 20% on the same period last year. 

This statement below is how Equifax define a business "failure"

The definition of a business failure in the Equifax report is any business with a winding up order, or in liquidation - NOT those in administration, receivership, and company voluntary arrangements. 

We did note an increase in the numbers of advertised petitions in September which may well reflect the number of compulsory liquidations

Not surprisingly,  Equifax found that the biggest rise was in the retail sector  with a 41.8% increase in failures. The Construction industry is also finding conditions challenging with a 22.6% rise in companies going under.

We await the figures from the Insolvency Service which includes all the statistics on Administrations, Liquidations and Voluntary Arrangements.

I would like to point out at this stage that a Company Voluntary Arrangement is not really a businesss failure!  It is a business rescue!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Inflation rate reaches 5.2%

The inflation rate reaches 5.2% which is way above the BOE's target rate of 2%.  This inflation is mainly as a result of high energy prices exacerbated by the low exchange rate.  The Bank of England believes that the inflation has peaked and the effect of the VAT rise will drop out of the statistics bringing the headline rate down but the pain still continues. 

This month is when the Government sets the rate of the state pension and other benefits so the high inflation will further dent their ability to bring spending down.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Red Flag Alert points to insolvency risks in the Travel Industry

The latest quarterly report into the levels of financial distress in UK companies has been compiled by the insolvency firm, Begbies Traynor, in their Red Flag Alert report.

Key findings from the Q3 2011 Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert statistics include:

The Travel and Tourism sector has seen a 49% increase in companies facing ‘critical’ distress compared to Q3 2010 and a 29% increase in companies facing ‘significant’ financial distress when compared with Q2 2011. Travel operators have given profits warnings as consumers cut back on holidays.

Across all sectors there has been a 23% increase in the number of companies in "critical" financial distress when comparing Q3 2011 to Q3 2010.  However, The report does not say how many companies are experiencing "significant" financial distress over the same period.  It is therefore difficult to be sure what the current levels of distress are.  Distress is a pretty subjective thing to measure and the current low levels of administrations and winding up petitions being issued confuses the picture further. Companies may have less to spend and are increasingly in debt but they are not falling down in quite the same way as happened in previous recessions. 

Other interesting trends has been the North South divide.

Against a UK average rise of 2%, the number of businesses facing both significant and critical financial distress in the past quarter dropped by 6% and 3% respectively for London and the South East, while all other regions in England and Wales faced increased levels of distress.

Hardest hit was the  North East with a 19% increase in business distress, followed by the North West with a 12% rise. Yorkshire, the Midlands, Wales and the South West regions all saw increases in business distress of 10%.



Discover Leisure in Administration

Discover Leisure, the Yorkshire-based caravan and motorhome retailer, has gone into administration with the 250 staff uncertain to their future.  It is anticipated that a number of jobs will be lost.

Last week we blogged that the firm was unable to secure new funds going forward and its shares were suspended.  So it is perhaps inevitable that the company ultimately failed. 

In a statement, the administrators at KPMG said: “The directors recently sought investment in an attempt to keep the business trading, however, their efforts proved unsuccessful.”

The company has been hit by consumers’ reigning in their spending on large purchases.

If your firm is facing administration and you are uncertain to your rights and whether you might be paid look at our help for employees in insolvency page.

If you supply a business that has entered administration please read our help page for suppliers

Friday, 14 October 2011

Winding up petitions analysis

KSA Group have done an analysis of the number of winding up petitions (WUPs) that have been advertised recently. 

For the month of September 2011 there were 662 winding up petitions advertised compared to 500 advertised in September 2010.  This reflects the number of companies we helped  in June and July following threats of winding up petitions.  However, in the first 2 weeks of October 2011 only 230 were advertised compared to 300 during the same period last year.  We are seeing some increased activity in the last couple of days with HMRC starting to issue petitions again.

So if you get one of these  then give us a call.  You must act!

Discover Leisure's Shares Suspended

Discover Leisure, the motor home and caravan retailer based in East Yorkshire, has had its shares suspended this morning amid concerns about its funding.

Earlier this week, the company announced that it was looking for additional funding after a pre-tax loss for the year to the 31st August of £1.5m and a drop in turnover.

This morning the company issued a statement saying; "Despite the extremely challenging trading conditions and financial environment, the board has had some success in finding financial investors who have indicated an intention to invest additional capital or acquire certain assets of the company.

"However, the board now believes that it is increasingly unlikely that an acceptable solution to the funding issues which the group faces can be secured in the necessary timeframe.

"Accordingly, the company has requested a suspension of the listing and trading of the Company's ordinary shares with immediate effect, pending clarification of the company's financial position."

Discover Leisure, based in East Yorkshire, was the subject of a company voluntary arrangement in 2009 which saw it sell 11 trading sites.

The leisure sector has taken a bit of battering recently as consumers reign in their spending.  Caravans and Motor Homes are expensive items and it may be that people are putting off purchases or not going for the best models.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Broker Assistance for sale?

As reported in the Insurance Age today, The Auto Body Professionals Club (ABP) has said that  it has been approached by the administrators, thought to be Leonard Curtis, who are "urgently seeking interested parties with regards to the sale of a business whose principal activity is the provision of motor claims solutions and recovery services on behalf of brokers, insurers and businesses".  Offers to be made by 5pm tonight.

The ABP said it believed the company is Broker Assistance.

The North West based firm whose turnover was last reported at £15m may be in difficulty but it would be premature to say that the company is in administration.  Most likely the buyer in a PLANNED pre pack administration has pulled out.

Linford Group Stops Trading

Linford Group, a building company based in Lichfield Staffordshire, has stopped trading with the loss of 200 jobs.  This is the second time in as many days that a large builder has failed.  The building sector has always been sensitive to changes in the economic environment and the impact of a failure affects many people.

The firm Butcher Woods on 0121 236 6001 has been appointed to handle the affairs of the Linford Group and is trying to get projects completed.  It is not clear whether the business has yet gone into administration or liquidation.

The firm had offices in the North West, the South West and North Wales.

See our case study on how we rescued a building company in the North East

Scottish CVA Seminar a Success

A special thanks to all those who came along to hear Keith Steven of KSA Group talk about CVAs and their application in Scotland.  Comments were that it was astonishing that only 6 or 7 CVAs are done each year in comparison to 600+ in England. 

We also learnt about some of the issues facing professionals in the insolvency industry that are unique to Scotland. 

All those attending took away their USB Toolkits and a 150 page manual on CVAs

We will be increasing our prescence in Scotland over the next few months to try and get our message across.  As such, we look forward to meeting more finance professionals.

A number of people were unable to attend and, given the level of demand, we will most likely run another event in 2012.

We aim to promote a rescue culture in Scotland and save companies from terminal insolvency whereever possible.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Scottish CVA Seminar This Evening

Tonight we are holding our first Company Voluntary Arrangement Seminar in Scotland at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue 16 St Mary's Street, Edinburgh  EH1 1SU  4.00 Registration for 4.30 Start.

We intend to bring the rescue culture to Scotland and promote the use of the Company Voluntary Arrangement as a mechanism to save companies.   We recognize there are differences in procedures in Scotland but these alone should not explain the fact that CVAs are rarely used.  5-10 in Scotland compared to 600+ in England and Wales.  We welcome delegates views on this. 

Delegates will be getting a free 150 page guide,  A USB Insolvency Toolkit, some snacks and a glass of wine.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Holloway White Allom in Administration

Holloway White Allom, the London fit out specialist, has been placed in administration with the loss of 225 jobs.  The firm was established in 1882 and was associated with high-end residential and commercial refurbishments.  At its peak the firm had an annual turnover of £90m

In February this year private equity company Privet Capital injected cash into the business for a majority stake holding.

According to reports the reasons for the failure have been that a couple of projects hit higher than expected costs.  However, in the last 2 years turnover has reportedly fallen to £60m and there has been an uneasy relationship with the firms new backers.

Administrators from KPMG are handling the company's affairs.

Hulse (Electrical Contractors) Ltd in Administrative Receivership

Sutton Coldfield-based company Hulse (Electrical Contractors) Ltd which had an annual turnover of £25m has gone into administrative receivership with the loss of 160 jobs.

The downturn in the construction is thought to be to blame for the firm’s collapse.

David Bennett and David Dunckley, of Grant Thornton UK have been appointed joint administrative receivers.  They can be reached on 0121 212 4000. 

The business was founded in 1985 and owned and operated by the Hulse family.  The business had an annual turnover of around £25m.
Mr Bennett said: “Hulse had been suffering cash flow difficulties and although various solutions had been explored by the directors to save the business, none were ultimately successful.”

All 160 jobs have been lost across its offices in Sutton Coldfield, Glasgow, Oxford, and Bristol.
It worked on a number of hotel projects in and around Birmingham, including the refurbishment of the Crowne Plaza, plus commercial sites such as the Blythe Valley Business Park.

It was recently awarded a £1.8m contract to complete mechanical and electrical installation on the next phase of the Waterfront South development in Walsall. The project was due for completion next summer.

Readers may note that we have said the business is in "administrative receivership" as opposed to administration.  The Hulse website also confirms this.

What exactly is administrative receivership then?

A receiver is appointed by a floating charge holder. and this only happens where a debenture has been created over the company prior to September 2003.  Any debentures created after that date mean the holder has to appoint administrators.   There are subtle differences in the two processes.  Please read our detailed guide to administration to find out more.

Ernst & Young being sued over valuation of insolvency practice

Ernst & Young is being sued by the private equity firm Primary Capital, according to The Times, for £8.5m. The claim is that the accountants incorrectly valued its investment into Haines Watts, the business recovery practice which it bougth in 2006 before the insolvency practice entered into a pre-pack administration two years later. It was sold to RSM Tenon.

Without seeing the valuation we cannot comment.  However, many insolvency practices have found the expected increase in business failures has failed to materialize as businesses have been able to cut costs and banks have not moved to put businesses into administration.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Directors Disqualification in Insolvency

There are many reasons why a director may be disqualified ranging from fraudulent or wrongful trading, theft etc.  However, when a business does become insolvent an investigation into the directors conduct is made.  In the case of a compulsory liquidation the Official Receiver has a statutory duty to look into the conduct of the directors.

Please see below is a recent disqualification case.

Christopher and Carol Howarth, both 49, ran two bridal wear and suit hire business in Warwickshire, Crystals Bridal Centre and Christopher's Suit Hire, in Nuneaton, after launching C&C Wedding Company in September 2005.

The pair has been disqualified from being directors for seven years each after 76 pre-paid orders worth over £35,000 were left unfulfilled.

C&C Wedding Company entered into a voluntary arrangement with its creditors in February 2009 but this had failed four months later.

It eventually entered into liquidation in November 2009 with debts of more than £287,000, by which time it had taken payments of at least £35,976 on 76 unfulfilled orders, forcing some brides to pay again for dresses.

The point here is that the couple continued taking deposits when they knew that they had no way of fulfilling orders. ie the CVA had fallen down in June.  The couple should have concentrated on fulfilling existing orders and not run up more large debts.  As such any director who finds themselves in the position of taking deposits in the hope of company viability has to be very careful and should seek professional advice.

Claire Entwistle, director of company investigations north, said: "The undertakings** signed by Christopher Howarth and Carol Howarth send a clear message to other company directors; if you run a business in a way that is detrimental to either its customers or its creditors you could be investigated by the Insolvency Service and as a result removed from the business environment."

**Disqualification undertakings were introduced in April 2001, they are an administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Without specific permission of a court, a person with a Company Director Disqualification, including Undertakings, cannot:-

act as a director of a company; take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company; be a liquidator or administrator of a company; or be a receiver or manager of a company’s property.

Friday, 7 October 2011

We will help companies negotiate with HMRC and other creditors

At KSA Group we can help companies by simply negotiating with HMRC, and other creditors, to postpone or restructure debts.  This may sound simple but creditors, especially HMRC, will need a compelling case for allowing the company to delay payments due.  This will mean a revised business plan with realistic forecasts backed up with evidence.

We spend almost all day every day negotiating debts with banks, HMRC and trade suppliers. Often this leads to creditors standing back from the issues and looking at the wider solution.

Let us help you.  0800 9700539

We rescue pubs and hotels!

KSA Group  rescue pubs and hotels! 

We have just finished writing our "Complete Expert's Guide to Turning Around Your Struggling Pub, Hotel or Inn Business."  The guide is over a 100 pages long and provides invaluable advice on your options if your business is in difficulty.

You can download the new guide on our page on how to rescue a pub business.

The New Evergreen Far East Limited

KSA Group Liquidation Notices

The New Evergreen Far East Limited

Meeting of the Creditors of the above named Company will be held at the offices of KSA Group Ltd, Tower 42, Level 7, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HN on 14 October 2011 at 3.15 pm
Full notice below.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

BOE - getting their actions in before Euro collapse?

Can't help but admire the Monetary Policy Committee, recapitalising UK's banks by the back door, before the possible debacle on the continent? Even though I don't agree with the policy!

Greece will default soon, haircuts all round for the French banking system? Germany will bail out her banks, says their Chancellor.  Will the Germans bail out the Irish, Portugese and Italian banks next? This political posturing has to stop soon. 

There is, to me little point in Euro Bonds as a possible solution. Is it just me or is the mixture of toxic debt and clean debt, then being wrapped up in a pretty ribbon and called "prime", just the same thing that led to the last global banking collapse? Why repeat that?

Can the Euro survive?  The nettle needs grasped now, pain will of course follow, but the Greek exit from the Euro will not lead to the end of the financial world, as forecast by some politicians and economists. It will in time lead to a recovery.

In the world of turnaround and insolvency, debt is written off or down, recovery often follows. Creditors lose monies.  Capitalism working as normal. That I am afraid hasn't really happened sufficiently yet in the banks and by extension the insolvent states.

Extend and pretend? Printing more money? Debate but don't take action?

All to easy. Stronger medicine needed.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What is a Validation Order?

A Validation Order is an order from the court that in effect says that any "dispossession of assets" from a company ( ie withdrawals from a bank account) will not be made void if a winding up order is granted following the serving of a petition.  This then enables the bank to unfreeze the company's accounts.

For more details please look at our new page called - What is a Validation Order

Blogged by Robert Moore

Waters Auto Planet Administration Rumours?

It has been reported in Car Magazine that Waters Auto Planet, one of the largest car dealerships in the South of England, is facing financial problems.  Calls to any of their dealerships are being routed to a call handling service where they say that the dealerships are closed due to a financial dispute.  This could mean anything of course.  The lady I spoke to said that she expects them to reopen this afternoon.  Could it be that some sort of pre pack administration is being negotiated?  Of course a prepack is designed to allow continuation of trade and shutting down all the dealerships even if for a few hours is not a good start.

On looking at the company's accounts it appears that it has suffered falling sales since the credit crunch but its last accounts showed a healthy balance sheet and a profit of £8m on sales of £43m.  Mind you those accounts only went up to December 2009 and so the company does not have a current credit rating.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Davenham Group to go into administration

Specialist commercial finance company, Davenham Group PLC, has announced it is to appoint administrators after the banking syndicate, led by Royal Bank of Scotland, said it would not renew its banking facility.  As such the shares were suspended.

The directors are able to file a notice to appoint administrators at the court and this gives them a 10 day moratorium during which period creditors cannot launch legal action such as winding up petitions 

The  lender has seen major write-downs in the value of its loans made against properties since the onset of the financial crisis.

In March, Davenham said that the size of its loan book had reduced to £65.1m by the end of 2010, although it still owed the banking syndicate £86.3m.

Specialist commercial finance companies are now well placed to exploit business opportunities where the other banks fear to tread.  However, if asset values suddenly fall or they have been injudicious in their loans then they can be exposed.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Baker Tilly Merges with North East Accountancy Firm

The accountancy and business advisory firm, Baker Tilly, has announced the increase in size of its Newcastle office by way of  a local merger with The Charlton Williamson Partnership LLP.  The combined office will consist of seven partners and 60 professional and support staff.  The Charlton Williamson staff will transfer to the offices in St James Gate in the city centre.

Commenting on the merger, Jim Meakin, Office Managing Partner at Baker Tilly in Newcastle, says: “We are delighted to be joined by the Charlton Williamson partners and their team, who share our client focused philosophy. The quality client base and additional critical mass they bring through the merger will help us to continue to grow our business in the region."

The merging of the two firms demonstrates that the market for business advisory work is very competitive and it makes sense to combine forces.
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