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Last Crawshaw Jobs Saved

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The last remaining jobs at the beleaguered Crawshaw have finally been saved, as what remains of the company has been bought out of administration.

The high street butchery chain has been purchased by a newly formed company, headed up by meat entrepreneur Tom Cribbin.

Final shreds of business

The business had already been split apart, with some of the stores closed down and food jobs axed to save the ones that could potentially be kept going in the future.

There are now just 19 high street stores remaining, alongside a production and distribution facility used by the chain. This £1.4 million deal is a boon to the workers in these parts of the business, as it has saved 240 jobs from the chopping block.

However, that is not much consolation to the rest of the 600 members of staff who will now need to be looking into food recruitment, as their jobs were not saved. There were originally 54 stores and another distribution centre in the group when it went into administration two months ago, but these were quickly whittled down by the company directors just before handing it over to the administrators from Ernst & Young.

Hunter Kelly and Charles King had continued to operate the 19 remaining stores, as well as the site in Hellaby, Rotherham. They will be pleased to see the end of the process in sight, as it has already been some time since the company went into administration on the 2nd November.

New owner

Tom Cribbin is the owner of the new company, Loughanure Ltd, set up to rescue the beleaguered butcher. He also runs Cribbin Family Butchers, a wholesaler which operated a chain of butchers’ stores in Ireland before being sold to Gabbotts Farm in April 2015.

Kelly and King say that they had fielded more than 50 expression of interest in either all, or part of the group’s remaining business. After looking through the offers, they came to the conclusion that Loughanure represented “the best outcome for the creditors, employees, and shareholders of the group”. The £1.4 million sale is still subject to adjustment, as a stock count needs to be completed.

The London Stock Exchange rules indicate that there was no need to get shareholder consent for the sales, but this does mean that the shares of the company currently remain suspended on AIM. It is thought that the Crawshaw listing will be cancelled as a result of the upheaval.

Meanwhile, the business is not entirely finished with the winding down process. Kelly and King have indicated that they are continuing to try to sell some of the stores that were closed before they came in, as well as some related assets. They will also be continuing to chase down outstanding debtors.

There are also a few other assets available for buyers, such as a long leasehold property in Grimsby, a number of vehicles previously used for the company’s fleet, and surplus store equipment from the closed locations. They will be keen to get all of this sold as quickly as possible, in order to wrap up the matter entirely. Getting it finished with before the New Year hits would be the ideal scenario for everyone, including whichever businesses become the happy new owners of those remaining assets.

It remains to be seen whether there will be potential in the sites that have remained open, or whether the whole business is flawed from the inside. Cribbin will hope that he is able to turn things around, and create a new empire of his own similar to the last one.