The BHS Story Chapter 1

Bargain hunting in the retail sector - who’d ever buy into a CVA?

The demise of BHS and the recent announcement that the administrators will be closing all the shops sees yet another major retailer follow Woolies et al in disappearing from our high streets.

As the death of yet another beleaguered retail chain plays out in the press, the BHS story highlights many of the contemporary issues that UK businesses face and I’ll be covering a few of these in a series of articles.

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In 2014 Teresa Graham published the results of her independent review commissioned by the Government into the perceived misuse of the administration regime where a “pre-packaged” sale of a company’s business occurs immediately on appointment of an Administrator.

Known as a “Pre-Pack” the word has moved into common parlance in the corporate world and in the press, as some high profile cases brought the procedure into the public eye.

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It is clear that multinational companies, many of which are reaping the benefits of “tax jurisdiction shopping”, have an unfair advantage over domestic SMEs in terms of reducing their business outlay and therefore the cost of delivering their products or services.

The news that the EU will now look for these multinationals to disclose the locations in which they pay tax and the amount paid is laudable, but will SMEs actually benefit? How will any additional tax revenue be applied, if indeed such funds are acquired?

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Why and what is likely to be the impact? 

What is happening?

The statutory paper returns on the conduct of directors are being removed in favour of a single digital return which is required within a shorter timescale of three months from the date of insolvency rather than the current limit of six months. It was interesting to discover during the course of my research that the Insolvency Service reports that only 68% of the reports are submitted within the current time limit.

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Following every bad debt or loss due to insolvency: directors, suppliers, customers and employees almost always ask themselves: Could we have seen it coming?  Could we have predicted the company was in trouble? What were the distress signs that we missed? 

Well, here are the top six signs of company distress I look out for... there are no real surprises.

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