Cains faces wind-up threat over Customs disputeJul 26 2008
by Alistair Houghton, Liverpool Daily Post
LIVERPOOL brewer Cains is facing the threat of a winding-up order over a dispute with HM Revenue and Customs.
Customs officials have filed a petition at the High Court to have the company wound up over an unpaid debt.
However the Daily Post understands that negotiations between the company and HMRC are at an advanced stage and that a conditional agreement has been reached for the debt to be settled, meaning the legal action will be halted.
The company is unable to comment on the situation due to the rules of the Alternative Investment Market, on which it is listed, as it is set to issue half-year results on Monday.
The dispute with HMRC does not impact on the company’s financial position and it continues to trade normally.
The issue is believed to relate to a late payment following a dispute over a Customs bill.
The winding-up petition was published in the London Gazette, the official newspaper for regulatory information about companies.
The court case was set to be heard on August 12.
A spokesman for Cains said: “The company will be making a formal announcement in due course and are unable to comment until that formal announcement has been made.”
A HMRC spokesman said it would not comment on an individual case.
But HMRC’s website says it will start the legal process immediately if a company does not within seven days either pay its debt or contact it about settling the debt.
Cains diversified from its core brewing business last year to acquire a pub chain. Since then pubs in general have faced a challenging climate, thanks to a combination of the smoking ban, the credit crunch and the impact of two poor summers that have seen drinkers stay at home.
In Cains' last set of results, published in April and covering the 14 months to October 28, 2007, the company reported a loss of £2.8m and said times ahead would be tough.
In a trading statement issued at Cains’ AGM on May 23, the company said trading in the first half of the year had been “challenging” and that it remained cautious about the outlook for 2008. However, the company said it was pleased with its progress.
Cains was originally founded in Liverpool in the 1850s and was for many years known as Higsons. In 2002 it was bought by brothers Ajmail and Sudarghara Dusanj, who pledged to transform its fortunes.
Last year the company listed on the stock market after its reverse takeover of pub company Honeycombe Leisure. It now runs 109 pubs and employs almost 500 people.
As well as its own ales, including its own award-winning Liverpool Lager and Formidable Ale, it brews beers for supermarkets and other beer brands. It is a major sponsor of the Capital of Culture celebrations.