Begbies Traynor hired as Ultimate Foods administrator

22 February 2018 Authored by Consultancy.uk

Cumbrian food producer The Ultimate Food Company has entered administration. The family business, best known for its line of bespoke Christmas puddings, has appointed specialists from consultancy Begbies Traynor, as the group ceased trading in early February.

The food and beverage manufacturing sector remains a key aspect of the UK's manufacturing industry, generating around 16% of the sector's GVA. Food and drink manufacturers in Britain face an uncertain future. Last year a study by Deloitte found that food and drink saw one of the largest decreases in ‘luxury’ spending in early 2017, as consumers sought to cut down on unnecessary spending, amid wage stagnation and rising levels of debt.

On top of this, the sector also has to contend with the unknown quantity of Brexit. A report from Grant Thornton recently suggested that food and drink manufacturers might be among those hardest hit by a ‘Hard Brexit’, thanks to new import and export tariffs and restrictions on the flow of labour. While these fears are yet to be realised, with staggered negotiations between the UK Government and Brussels still to yield any concrete conditions for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, numerous groups have taken pre-emptive action. Nestle, Colmans and Britvic confirmed plans to move jobs to the continent in 2017, in order to maintain easy access to the single market after 2019.

Begbies Traynor hired as Ultimate Foods administrator

Now, as the food and drink sector continues to brace for market turbulence, a UK food producer has gone into administration after more than 30 years in business. The Ultimate Food Company, a family firm established in 1986 in Kendall, Cumbria, was best known for its array of desserts, including Ultimate Christmas puddings – including bespoke recipes for alcohol and or gluten free puddings – ambient sponges and dessert sauces.

Research from PwC recently showed that family businesses are one of the strongest elements of UK economic growth, and The Ultimate Food Company had likewise grown steadily since its launch. This was largely via word of mouth, according to the firm itself, however this tactic seems to have placed the company in a sticky situation of late.

While The Ultimate Food Company’s website proudly states that as they believe their products are high quality, “we don’t often shout about them,” and that, “the flavours and textures speak for themselves,” unfortunately, in an age of 24/7 digital advertising solutions, such a traditional model of marketing does not seem to have kitted the company out for growth in the modern market. The Ultimate Food Company has ceased trading, as of early February.

Administrators

In an effort to salvage the business in some form, advisors from Begbies Traynor have been appointed as administrators for the foods group. Begbies Traynor, which was known as Traynor & Partners until 1997, is a UK professional services consultancy, which specialises in restructuring & turnaround, corporate and personal insolvency, corporate finance, and other related areas. The firm has a headcount of over 400 staff, who operate from its national network of 49 offices across the UK.

Two of the firm’s Business Rescue and Recovery specialists, Insolvency Director Ian McCulloch and Dean Watson, a Partner at Begbies Traynor, have been appointed as joint administrators. The pair hope that The Ultimate Foods Group can ultimately be resurrected in some form, while minimising the effect the process will have on customers.

Dean Watson and Ian McCulloch - Begbies Traynor

McCulloch said, “Ultimate was an established, well-recognised and highly regarded food manufacturer which has unfortunately ceased to trade due to a number of issues. We are currently in the process of marketing the business and assets for sale and should there be any interested parties then please get in touch.”

“Action has been taken to minimise the impact of the administration on customers and to seek interested parties that may want to continue with this highly respected business. This course of action should assist in maximising the returns to creditors by allowing increased asset realisations,” Watson added.

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