Based in Scunthorpe, Country Chef employed around 80 staff, and produced processed potato products for sale to retail and trade buyers, as well as sous vide dishes; it operated from leasehold premises in the town.
Meanwhile, around 11 staff at Denby Dale Pies made frozen pies from a leasehold site in Denby Dale, Yorkshire (a town famous for its giant meat and potato pies), and due to ownership by common shareholders, the administration of both firms was dealt with by accountant and business advisor PKF.
Jon Newell, joint administrator, PKF, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that newly formed company Abbeydale Foods has acquired the assets at both sites, with all staff initially made redundant when the firms closed their doors in early March and PKF took over.
Although PKF had marketed the firms as separate entities, Newell said, he and his fellow administrator believed that the Abbeydale bid – a joint package for both companies – was the best offer on the table; he added the former shareholders had no connection with the newly formed company.
Ran out of money...
Newell said that Country Chef and Denby Dale had cash-flow difficulties: “They ran out of money and were not paying creditors, which led to the accumulation of a large historic debt,” which included “massive arrears to the Inland Revenue [IR]”.
He added that, when a firm employs around 80 staff paid around £200 per week, a failure to make tax deductions via PAYE (pay as you earn) meant the accumulation of a £6,000 per week debt to the IR, where such debts can stack-up quickly.
Abbeydale Foods md Andrew Hayes (pictured right) said: "Abbeydale has been formed to build a substantial food group and both these acquisitions fit out strategy, while at the same time saving jobs in the local area. We've been growing the sales of potato skins in Continental Europe over the last few years. In the last two months, we have seen some significant gains in France."