Exclusive – Yattendon Estates paid £3.1m for West Berkshire Brewery, creditors owed almost £10m: Yattendon Estates, one of the privately held group of companies owned by the Iliffe family, acquired West Berkshire Brewery in a pre-pack administration deal for £3.1m, with creditors owed almost £10m, new documents have revealed. A statement of administrator’s proposal report by Philip Stephenson and Alistair Wardell of Grant Thornton, showed the full amount was paid at the time of the purchase last month, with all 106 employees transferring to the new owners. The document revealed six offers were made for the business, which had failed to generate positive Ebitda after 2016 after making significant investment in the brewery and packaging facilities. The report added: “Subsequently, the company has been unable to attract sufficient turnover, at an appropriate margin, to enable it to operate efficiently and was unable to meet the cost of the borrowing raised from noteholders and finance companies for the investment in the new facilities. Recent challenges in the brewing and hospitality industry have resulted in a further reduction in revenue. The company had built up significant creditor arrears and its working capital was severely constrained.” Accounts show West Berkshire Brewery turned over £5.8m in the year ending 29 March 2020 with a pre-tax loss of £4m. The previous year the business turned over £6.2m with a pre-tax loss of £3.3m. The report showed West Berkshire Brewery had undertaken a further fundraising in May last year, raising £1.27m from a new tranche of loan notes from a number of individual lenders, with the security held by Lucid Trustee Services. Fellow secured creditor HSBC is owed £250,000 in the form of a covid recovery loan secured in September last year. HM Revenue & Customs is owed circa £1.4m. Unsecured creditors’ claims are estimated to be £6.7m – split as £2.4m in respect of trade creditors and £4.3m in respect of unsecured loan notes. The deal did not include its The Grapes pub in Oxford, which shut in December before the administrators’ appointment, or the three pubs operated by Maverick Pubs, the joint venture between West Berkshire Brewery and Downing Pubs. West Berkshire Brewery was founded in 1995 and chaired for the past eight years by David Bruce, who founded the Firkin brew-pubs chain and co-founded the City Pub Company and Capital Pub Company. Bruce raised more than £17m from more than 800 small shareholders to expand West Berkshire Brewery, and had talked about the possibility of a flotation.
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