Wholesaler Palmer & Harvey has entered administration after failing to restructure significant debts owed to suppliers. The Palmer & Harvey Group, the UK’s fifth-largest privately owned business and the country’s largest tobacco supplier, had been in takeover talks with Carlyle, the private equity firm.
But after talks broke down, directors from several Palmer & Harvey group companies made an application to London’s High Court to enter administration to help ease an increasingly unmanageable debt burden.
New figures have revealed that UK construction contractors have been hit by £700 million in cash retention losses caused by insolvencies in the past three years.
The figures, which come from a report commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), have rightly been described as ‘shocking’ by the trade body the SEC Group.
The SEC claims that the brunt of those losses have been borne by small sub-contractors who, sitting further down the feeding chain, are less likely to recover monies owed to them if a client or main contractor goes bust.
After Monarch went bankrupt and left thousands of passengers stranded, it looks like Air Berlin, the second largest German airline, looks likely to be the next carrier to close down operations.
While Air Berlin is fizzing out slowly, in contrast to Monarch’s overnight collapse, as many as 9,000 redundancies are expected once it finally winds up with many small and medium sized suppliers braced for significant losses.
It is every supplier’s worst nightmare. You have finally secured a lucrative contract with a big name global brand, giving you what feels like a sense of security and assurance for future earnings.
Then, all of a sudden, the unthinkable happens - the company goes bust. From a position of relative comfort, you now find yourself at the back of a long queue chasing unpaid invoices you may well never recover.
Depending on how reliant your business is on that one big client, you could easily find yourself in jeopardy too, unable to absorb the loss.
Vertu Corporation Limited, the well-known British manufacturer of luxury smartphones, has finally filed for insolvency after being passed between owners since 2012.
The company was known for its spangly, jewel-encrusted handsets which came with equally ludicrous price tags. Its entry-level handset cost a cool £6,500; prices stretched to more than £250,000 for the garish Vertu Signature Cobra.
When a client starts to miss payment deadlines and debts mount up, it is natural to start to wonder - do they have the means to pay?
When companies get into financial difficulties, it can leave suppliers who are owed money in a tricky situation. As the saying goes, you can’t get blood out of a stone. If a business does not have any ready money available, debts will go unpaid.
Work has stopped on the restoration of Lancaster Castle after the company working on it was placed into administration. York based William Anelay Ltd, one of Britain’s oldest heritage restoration and construction companies, had been working on a programme of work to repair 70 per cent of the castle’s roofs and deal with weather damage to the fabric of the 1,000-year-old Grade II Listed building.
London based start-up Crowdmix Ltd was in the process of developing a social media music platform. But before it could even launch its product fully, it ran out of money despite having previously raised £14 million in funding.
As of Monday 11 July, 2016, it has left its creditors, many of them freelance contractors, tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket. If you’re owed money by Crowdmix the prognosis for recovery is not good, so let’s look at what happens next.
News that one of the oldest agricultural firms in Lancashire has entered administration has been met with shock and dismay. Riley Brothers International Haulage Ltd, the most recent iteration of a company with a history stretching back more than a century, entered administration on the 18th of December 2015 with the loss of more than 130 jobs.
It doesn't seem like rocket science to suggest that if a customer goes bust, you might want to stop supplying them; in fact, if you're doing your credit control properly, you'll probably want to restrict their account long before they publicly declare insolvency.
Under new government plans, due to come into force this October, you might find you are banned from taking such action, once your customer's financial woes are made public knowledge.
One of the biggest obstacles to recovering an outstanding debt has always been if a company ceases trading - this is basically a dead end, as once the company ceases to exist, it's impossible to continue chasing the individuals who ran it. Or is it?
Under the terms of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, which received royal assent on March 26th 2015, new rules will apply to disqualified directors, and particularly to any losses incurred by creditors due to director misconduct.
The granting of royal assent to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 should be good news for creditors, particularly those who are left owed money by a business customer who has gone into corporate insolvency.
That is because there are several measures included in the legislation that should leave more money in the pot to pay creditors what they are owed, even after the administrators take out their fee; and there may also be the option to pursue a company's former directors personally for redress.
Mr Lawrence McGovern, director of Railtrades Ltd (“Railtrades”) has received a 6 year disqualification order for disposing of the company’s assets worth an estimated £52,000 and paying almost that amount to connected third parties.
Mr McGovern’s disqualification from 15 December 2014 follows a disqualification order made in the County Court at Romford on 14 November 2014 by Deputy District Judge Dudderidge. The application on 28 May 2014 was by the Insolvency Service on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Sometimes, businesses fail. If a failed company is a customer of yours it can be an expensive and potentially disastrous situation.
In most cases their will be little you can do, except wait and see if any money is left for creditors when the affairs of the company are formally finalised.
It's good to know that, when a dodgy dealer makes off with client money and there's no record of where it's gone, they will face prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
New figures from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills show that the BIS Criminal Enforcement Team achieved 198 successful prosecutions in the 2012-13 financial year.
Late payment of invoices is now - for the first time in recent years - the single greatest risk to creditors, even outranking debtor insolvency in a report from credit risk insurer Coface UK.
According to the insurer, 60% of the claims it received in the first nine months of 2013 arose due to "a customer's protracted default" - that is, either late or non-payment.
We often warn that late payment can be more than just an inconvenience for many small firms, as the interruption to cash flow can put them at risk of failing to pay their own debts, bills and invoices - potentially leading to insolvency.
Now newly published figures from R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals, show the extent to which this is the case, with late payment cited as a major or primary factor in the failure of one in five companies in the past year.
It seems only fitting that Halloween week should be the moment when Blockbuster Video - one of the UK's biggest zombie businesses - reveals that, for the second time in ten months, it is lurching back into the corporate graveyard.
Zombie businesses are those that are only just surviving, but would be unlikely or unable to continue to do so if there were any kind of substantial shock to their ongoing operations.
That pretty much sums up Blockbuster's situation, as current owners Gordon Brothers Europe have been unable to bring the company into the 21st century; former US parent company Dish still own the digital rights to the brand, and competitors like LoveFilm, Netflix and Sky have already cornered the British market for streaming films.
The Centre for Retail Research has published its latest Who's Gone Bust? report, giving an insight into how retail companies have been affected by five years of economic turbulence.
Worryingly for all involved in the sector, it appears that conditions are getting worse; 2012 saw 54 companies fail, matching the previous highest total set in 2008, and with 39 brands failing by the end of August alone, 2013 is on track to be even worse.
A married couple and their son have been banned as company directors after failing to pay more than £186,000 in tax. Heather & Lance Shepherd and their son James Shepherd, who ran a company called Shepherd Security Ltd in Preston have been disqualified from acting as directors for a total of 15 years following an investigation by the insolvency service.
As a fully licensed debt collection company that has been incorporated since 1984, we have a long history in providing advice on how to choose an ethical and trustworthy debt collection partner. But unfortunately sometimes this message doesn't get through to those that really need it and many businesses up and down the country can find themselves unwittingly in bed with unlicensed, unregulated and unethical 'debt recovery' companies.
Take one technology, media and politics website. Add a 28-year-old online entrepreneur who used to be called Milo Wagner, but is now called Milo Yiannopoulos. Don't add any paid invoices to freelance contributors - these could leave a sour taste in the mouth. Finish with an unpaid editor and a legal claim for £16,853.
You've got The Kernel's secret recipe, and it's one that's been stewing for some time. Contributors have reportedly been disputing payments for several months, and an estimated £10,000 or more is still owed to past writers and in copyright claims to photographers whose works were allegedly used without permission.
Will I get the money my company is owed?
But to answer this question first we need to understand exactly what is meant by the term insolvency, Sid Home our resident Credit Management expert explains.