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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.

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

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.

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 robertm@ksagroup.co.uk 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 http://www.companyrescue.co.uk

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.

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


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.

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.

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.
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