Corporate recovery specialist Begbies Traynor’s finances were in the spotlight yesterday. Overall revenues slid from £51 million in 2013 to £45.7m in the year to April 30, while earnings before interest, tax and amortisation fell from £7.6m to £6m. A £3m reduction in exceptional costs in the period meant overall pre-tax profits came in £1.38m ahead of 2013 at £3.79m. The firm said the financial result was in line with market expectations. Executive chairman Ric Traynor said the group had the largest number of corporate insolvency appointments in the UK, and “delivered solid profits and margins despite lower levels of corporate insolvencies in the calendar year 2013 compared to 2012”.
More than 15,000 Scottish businesses were flagged as being in distress in the first quarter of 2017. However, Begbies Traynor’s latest Red Flag report found improvements in the oil and gas, manufacturing and hospitality sectors and the number of Scottish firms facing critical issues - defined as having decrees totalling more than £5,000 and facing wind up petitions – actually fell in the period. A total of 48 companies were on the critical list in the first months of 2017, down from 67 in 2016. The Scottish construction sector - hit hard during the last downturn - was stable, while there was improvement in the pharma, professional services and automotive sectors. By contrast, there was a significant upturn in flags from logistics and wholesaling and overall the number of companies in distress reached 15,086, 5% higher on the quarter and 6% up on the year previous. “Anytime we show positive trends and out-perform UK averages we have to welcome the news, but we are careful to make sure we put the trends into perspective, and there needs to be a balanced view here with awareness that the less serious signs of significant distress are still rising,” Ken Pattullo, head of Begbies Traynor in Scotland. “The falls could also be partially attributed to the high levels of distress we saw in Aberdeenshire as the oil and gas sector has seen such hard times over recent years. “It would appear that we could have seen the peak of distress in that sector, which is obviously welcome. “Sectors with the biggest year on year rises in ‘significant’ instances of distress, the early warning signs of problems, included transportation and logistics by 46%, media that saw rises of 30% and wholesaling climbed by 32%.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Realtime Worlds will close its doors for good in six weeks if a buyer is not found for the Dundee video games firm. However, a senior figure at administrators Begbies Traynor claimed there is cause for optimism, with interested parties from both sides of the Atlantic looking at buying the company. Paul Dounis also confirmed 157 people in Dundee have been made redundant from Realtime, which went into administration on Tuesday, with just 53 jobs kept in the city to run the game APB: All Points Bulletin. The news came as anger mounted in the Scottish Government and across the city over the UK coalition government's decision to reverse plans for tax breaks for the games industry. Enterprise minister Jim Mather said, "Scottish-based games developers must be allowed to compete on a level playing field through tax breaks. That is why it is particularly disappointing that the UK Government has so far failed to listen to the industry and the Scottish Government." Mr Dounis, who said Realtime owes UK trade creditors around £3 million, added that 28 workers at the head office in Colorado have been paid off. "We are actively pursuing all these expressions of interest which have come from both the UK and US," he said. "We very much regret the redundancies that we have had to make." Staff attended a meeting at the firm's Marketgait offices yesterday to discuss the terms of their redundancy with representatives from Begbies Traynor. One former worker told The Courier the administrators revealed the six-week deadline on selling the company that is in place, something Begbies Traynor confirmed last night. Twitter messages from other employees said the company cannot pay them for completed work and it has changed all staff computer passwords so they can no longer log on. It is also understood workers will not receive any redundancy cash and will have to apply to the government if they want to claim any compensation. Some 60 staff working on a new project called My World were made redundant by Realtime Worlds on Friday. Mr Dounis also confirmed the company is continuing to trade and said APB can still be played as the servers are still running. "The game will continue and that is something we want all customers to be aware of," he added.
Tenants and landlords caught up in the collapse of SJM Mortgages and Estate Agents in Kirkcaldy are being advised to contact professional services firm Begbies Traynor. The estate of SJM’s owner, Paul Maksymuik, was sequestrated with effect from November 10 last year by the Manchester-based consultancy. Local MSP David Torrance, who was contacted by SJM clients, said: “The bizarre events of last year involving the erratic behaviour and sudden disappearance of SJM’s management has caused considerable distress for landlords and tenants. “Many of my constituents and others trusted SJM to manage their leases, deposits and other services, and have come forward to express their shock and frustration at the situation to me. “In many cases, constituents have been financially affected with no knowledge of whether or not their lost money could be recovered.” Last year, there were numerous reports of landlords not receiving rent payments and SJM not responding to calls or emails. Police Scotland and Fife Trading Standards have since launched investigations into the situation. Mr Torrance said Begbies Traynor had been unable to contact all of the affected landlords and tenants. The Edinburgh branch office of Begbies Traynor can be contacted on 0131 222 9074. Mr Torrance added: “It is important that anyone who has been a client of SJM, whether a tenant or a landlord, comes forward to Begbies Traynor to discuss their situation. I know that everyone affected will be anxious to move forward and know where they stand.”
Begbies Traynor Red Flag research suggests corporate picture in Scotland ‘not as rosy’ as had been hoped
Business recovery specialist Begbies Traynor yesterday warned that Scotland’s economic recovery was not as “rosy” as expected, and said major challenges still lay ahead. The firm’s latest Red Flag research report found an increasing number of businesses north of the border had suffered significant financial distress in the second quarter of this year. “It is disappointing to see that the recovery in Scotland is still failing to gather pace,” said Ken Pattullo, Begbies Traynor’s group managing partner in Scotland. The survey reported that 145 Scottish companies were facing “critical” problems in the period, meaning they are either the subject of legal decrees worth more than £5,000 or were in the process of being wound-up. The figure was 22% higher than in the same period last year and was in stark contrast to a 9% year-on-year drop in critical cases across the UK as a whole. The report also found a 31% increase in Scottish firms reporting “significant” distress, a state indicating that a business is suffering the early signs of financial distress. A total of 12,655 Scottish businesses fell into the category in the three months to June, a 2% increase on the number reported in the first quarter of this year but slightly below the 34% rate seen across the UK as a whole. Analysis of the Scottish figures show the construction and retail sectors struggled in the period, with both reporting a rise in critical distress cases. However, there were better signs from the services sectors, with the proportion of bars and restaurants showing critical distress signs falling from 15% to 8% in the quarter and the hotels sector stabilising further. Mr Pattullo said there was still a long way to go before Scotland’s economic recovery was secured. “We’re concerned that in Scotland both levels of significant distress, indicating the first signs of financial difficulty, and critical distress indicating more severe problems have continued to show a marked increase year on year, leading us to believe that there may be more problems to come and the corporate picture for the country is not as rosy as we had hoped,” he said. “The recovery phase is a notoriously dangerous time for SMEs who have had their savings depleted during the recession and may be tempted to overtrade during the upturn, leading to cash-flow problems. “We urge businesses to continue to tightly control costs, keep a close eye on the balance sheet and remain cautious.”
The administrators dealing with collapsed Dundee video games firm Realtime Worlds have been criticised for failing to give former employees full redundancy payments. It is claimed Begbies Traynor have held back portions of statutory redundancy pay to cover employee computer and relocation loans. Angry and out-of-pocket employees of the company, which folded in August with the loss of nearly 200 jobs and debts of nearly £50 million, have insisted these were written off on their redundancy, and have the proof. Tahir Rashid, a workers' representative, said he was "absolutely disgusted" by Begbies' attempts to "claw back" money due to him and others. A letter issued to him on being made redundant in August states, "If you have a loan with the company any outstanding payments will be written off at your leaving date." "I'm absolutely disgusted that PC loans and relocation loans which had been written off are being taken from us," Mr Rashid said. "Begbies are in total denial about the discrepancy and have told me that they will look at it on an individual basis. "We're not talking large amounts maybe £600 or £700 but it's the point of it. You just don't do that to people who are short of cash already from being made redundant. Some of these guys have got no money. "It's truly a shocking state of affairs. I guess it's about the money at the end of the day not the people that lost their jobs." Another former staff member, who declined to be named, said, "I was disgusted to be told that they are basically just going to deal with employees on an individual basis, so those that bother to complain will get the money back. "Gary (Dale, Realtime chief executive) and Dave (Jones, the company's founder) had authorised all PC loans to be waived in the event of redundancy." Realtime Worlds' joint administrator, Ken Pattullo of Begbies Traynor, said his firm would investigate any incorrect deductions. "If there is an issue with these former employees we will most certainly look into it, and if any money had been wrongly deducted from anyone's payment we will ensure they are reimbursed," he said.
The full scale of the debts owed by the company which operated the crisis-hit South Links Holiday Park in Montrose has been revealed. Angus Council is owed more than £400,000 and is the largest creditor of Wow Leisure Ltd, which administrators assess have debts of more than £1.6 million. Most of the council’s debt is due to a £275,000 loan to the company which, it has now emerged, was approved in private at a meeting of the full council in December 2011. The £409,486 total also includes missed rent payments on the council owned site, interest charges and legal expenses. The council is still pursuing the debt, but it is understood officials have acknowledged the council is unlikely to ever see the vast majority, or any, of the six-figure sum it is owed. The £275,000 loan to the company was secured with a ‘floating charge’ over all the company’s assets. This gave the council the legal right to call in administrators Begbies Traynor in August. The council will not explain the reasons behind the loan, which was made at the time of the previous Angus Alliance administration, because of “commercial confidentiality”. However, Wow Leisure’s director and single shareholder Bill McDonald has previously given a statement to The Courier regarding the issue. He stated he was approached by Angus Council shortly after his company signed the lease and informed that GlaxoSmithKline were interested in expanding their Montrose site. He claimed he was asked to curtail Wow Leisure’s trading at the site and that rent was waived for a period while the council and Glaxo were in talks. He added: “Angus Council also provided the company with financial assistance by way of an unsecured loan to the company during this period.” Legal proceedings between the firm and Angus Council began this year. Mr McDonald claimed he had vowed to repay the sums due over a “reasonable period of time” and that he would personally guarantee the debt. However, the council decided to end the discussions and call the administrators in. According to their creditor’s report Begbies Traynor has so far recovered just £2,300 from a company bank account as it continues its investigations. They have provisionally found £1,661,133 of debt. Other creditors include Carnaby Caravans Ltd (£54,000), New Lauriston Caravan Park Limited (£213,073), Omar Park Homes Ltd (£123,735) and Statley Albion (£359,636). Another major creditor is Bill McDonald who is owed £312,589. A statement from Begbies Traynor said: “At this stage the exact details of the creditor situation are still unclear, although Angus Council is the secured and largest creditor.”
The number of Scottish businesses suffering significant and critical financial distress increased last year despite an improving picture across the UK as a whole. Begbies Traynor’s latest Red Flag survey reported that 135 Scottish firms had found themselves in the most serious state of distress in the first quarter of 2014. The figure is 6% higher than the equivalent number from the same period last year, when 127 Scottish firms were found to be at significant risk of going to the wall. Across the UK, the report found 3,063 businesses experiencing critical problems which means a firm has entered into a company voluntary arrangement, faced a winding-up petition or had decrees against it of more than £5,000 in the most recent three-month period a reduction of 7% on the 3,283 figure from a year earlier. Figures for the number of Scottish firms in ‘significant distress’, one stage down from critical, increased by 2% to 12,439 in the first quarter, but remained below the rate seen elsewhere across the UK.
Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
Almost 100,000 UK businesses are in financial distress as major public spending cuts begins to bite, a new survey has found. Rescue and recovery specialists Begbies Traynor's quarterly Red Flag Alert Survey found that just under 6,000 Scottish companies are facing serious financial difficulties. The survey categorises ailing firms as having significant or critical problems based on debt default and the state of their accounts. The more serious category indicates a firm which has court judgments or wind-up petitions against it. A total of 382 Scottish companies fell into that category in the final quarter of last year a 17% increase on the figure of 330 recorded in the previous three-month period. A total of 5,916 Scottish businesses fell within the two distress linked categories a fall of 9% on the 2010 result but those said to be in a critical state rose 16% year on year. Firms offering business support services were the hardest hit and accounted for 24% of the total instances of commercial distress. The continuing problems in the construction sector were also evident in the findings with a distress rate of 12% unchanged from the previous quarter. Ken Pattullo, group managing partner in Scotland for Begbies Traynor, said it had been a hard time for the business community and the outlook remained bleak in the short to medium term. He said: ''We had expected the impact of public sector cuts in Scotland to lag behind the rest of the UK due to the timings of the respective elections, but we now appear to be feeling the knock-on effect through the wider Scottish economy, and we could continue to see this through the next two or three quarters. ''This rise in Scotland coincides with a general spread in distress across numerous sectors and regions of the UK economy that suggests the effects of the recession have now reached every corner of the UK. ''Even London that is usually insulated from distress has seen levels rise significantly, and every industry sector from manufacturing to professional services has now been affected over the course of the past three years,'' he said. ''Just about every sector has now felt the effects of the recession and the squeeze on the economy. We are now seeing critical distress instances from firms that have managed to stagger along through two tough trading years but who still face problems raising finance and getting paid by debtors at a time when many have shrinking order books, a fatal combination for many businesses.''