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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
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