Willow Wren Kearns Limited

The Problem

Willow Wren Kearns Limited, a long established, family run Narrowboat Hire and Build business, had been struggling financially for several years, when the owners decided on the advice of their accountant to begin a liquidation process in November 2011.

Better known under its trading name as Middlewich Narrowboats, the company had provided narrowboat holiday hire on the historic canals of the North West for 40 years.

However, the increasing costs of maintaining the older boats in its fleet at a time of economic downturn had proved to be extremely difficult. Major capital investment was required to keep operating and this was not available. The business had been offered up for sale on but despite interest from potential purchasers, a successful sale had not been made.

Mike Grieshaber of MLG Associates was recommended to the company and quickly set to work with a review of the business to confirm that an insolvency process was the necessary and best way forward.

The Solution – how we helped

In order to maximise the value of the company’s assets, and to mitigate potential claims, we worked to re-contact previously interested parties to achieve a sale of the business and its assets. During negotiations, the company continued to operate on a reduced scale, honouring existing holiday bookings and thus alleviating further losses and maintaining good will.

The successful sale of the business and its assets was completed on 29 November 2011 to The Chugalong Hire Company Limited.

By securing this sale, MLG Associates were able to bring about the following benefits:

  • Better realisation of assets - the sale of the entire business in situ as a going concern was a shorter process with far greater return and lower costs than a piecemeal break-up scenario.
  • Saved jobs – all of the employees remained with the business under the new ownership.
  • Customer good will - potential claims against the company from customers who had booked 2012 holidays and from employees and sponsors were minimised.
  • Enhanced dividend – timely and effective management by MLG Associates has produced a significantly better return for unsecured creditors than would otherwise have been the case.

"When it became apparent that the company could no longer survive in its present form, it was impossible to find a way out of the situation that would cause the least harm to all concerned. Happily we were recommended to MLG Associates and right from the start Mike did everything to take the problem from us and deal with it himself. He was friendly and easy to get on with and turned what could have been a difficult and embarrassing first encounter into a thoroughly practical and straight forward meeting, stressing that the matter was no longer my problem. He found the best solutions which enabled all the staff to remain in employment, which was one of our major concerns. It was certainly a great relief to have Mike on the case and I would have no hesitation in recommending MLG Associates to anyone in need of this expertise." TH Company Secretary