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Wed 9th Oct 2019 - Exclusive – Luke Johnson paid £2.3m for All Star Lanes
Exclusive – Luke Johnson paid £2.3m for All Star Lanes: Serial sector investor Luke Johnson paid £2.325m to acquire boutique bowling alley operator All Star Lanes out of administration last month, Propel has learned. A report by All Star Lanes joint administrator BDO shows a winding-up petition was presented against the company by HM Revenue & Customs in respect of an unpaid VAT liability of circa £460,000 on 20 August 2019. On 23 August, a court order was granted to rectify a defect in HSBC UK Bank’s security at Companies House. This security had previously been incorrectly stated as “satisfied” on the Companies House register. On 17 September, an application for the appointment of joint administrators was made by HSBC Bank UK. Prior to BDO’s appointment, it undertook a review of the company’s affairs with particular regard to its financial resource requirements. The administrators report stated: “It was ascertained it would not be possible to trade the business during the administration due to the fact that, although the company owned the intellectual property, operated all trading systems and employed key management personnel within the subsidiaries, it received no material income directly. There were projected losses associated with continuing to trade the company of about £50,000 per week, which weren’t considered likely to be covered by realisations. In the absence of external funding, the ongoing trading of the company wasn’t possible. The consequential impact of this was the inability to trade the subsidiaries due to the loss of systems, intellectual property and key personnel that would have occurred due to the company having ceased to trade. The shareholders and existing funders of the company weren’t in a position to provide additional working capital funding sufficient to enable a period of trading in administration. Neither the joint administrators nor the directors were aware of any other parties who would have funded a period of trading. Furthermore, given the marketing enquiries already undertaken, it was considered highly unlikely any additional investment or interest in a sale would have been received during any period of trading in administration.” Immediately following appointment of the administrators, they completed a sale of the business and certain assets of the company to Johnson-backed SPV2019 Limited for total consideration of £35,000. The report continued: “The purchase consideration was paid in full by SPV2019 on completion and formed part of a wider asset purchase agreement, which included the business and assets of the subsidiaries. Total consideration of £2,325,000 was paid for the combined business and assets of the company plus each of the subsidiaries.” The report showed the company turned over £15.5m for the year ending 31 December 2017, with a pre-tax loss of £334,000. The previous year the company turned over £15.3m with a pre-tax profit of £173,000, while in 2015 the company had turnover of £14.5m with a pre-tax loss of £41,000. BDO is still working with the directors of the company to ascertain whether any amounts are recoverable for creditors. The acquisition of five-strong All Star Lanes was Johnson’s first sector deal since the collapse of Patisserie Valerie following the discovery in October last year of “potentially fraudulent” accounting irregularities, which left a black hole in its finances of at least £94m. All Star Lanes was founded by Mark von Westenholz and Adam Breeden in 2006, with the latter stepping down from the business in 2012 to focus on his ping pong concept Bounce. Since launching its debut venue in Holborn, All Star Lanes, which is led by managing director Graham Cook, has opened sites in Westfield Stratford City, Westfield White City, Brick Lane and Manchester. A report last month stated All Star Lanes investors shared a £16m dividend only 16 months before it ran out of money.

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