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Heart of England Fine Foods Set to Fold


Statement from the Board of Heart of England Fine Foods:

“It is with extreme sadness and deep regret that we have to inform you that after 16 years HEART of ENGLAND fine foods (HEFF) has today taken steps to go into Voluntary Liquidation.

This decision has not been an easy one to take and does not reflect the hard work and commitment of the team of 15 staff but as a board of directors we have no other choice.

The current situation has arisen due to three primary reasons:

  1. The termination (at three years) of a six year contract HEFF had with Shropshire Council for the management of the Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre; resulting in a significant loss of funding.
  2. Funding, initially allocated in January 2014, from UKTI to support HEFF’s international work not materialising
  3. Slow trading across other areas of the business

Whilst the move to Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology in March 2014 provided HEFF with a medium to long term life line, in the short term the business is not generating sufficient income to replace its lost funding and therefore cannot ensure its future viability. It is important to remember that HEFF was established with Government funding to support start up businesses and SME’s within the food industry. Since 1998 HEFF has successfully delivered 17 contracts funded through either central Government, the Regional Development Agency, Local Authorities or the European Regional Development Fund. These contracts enabled HEFF to provide much needed support to the sector, which resulted in significant growth within individual businesses and across the food and drink supply chain. It is now apparent that HEFF can no longer continue to support businesses without ongoing public sector support.

Over the course of the last few months the Board of Directors has worked with the executive team to explore all potential options to enable HEFF to remain open for business but despite valiant efforts we have been unable to secure any additional sources of income from either the public or private sector.

Whilst the company still has healthy reserves, it continues to trade at a loss and we do not genuinely expect that we will be able to trade out of our current financial difficulties in the short term. Having taken professional advice, it is clear that to date, HEFF has acted in line with its fiduciary duties and in the best interests of the business; but to ensure that the company does not enter into Wrongful Trading the only course of action open to us is to go into Voluntary Liquidation.

Whilst, over the next quarter, we would have liked to wind the business up ourselves unfortunately, this is not feasible due to cash flow issues. We believe the Government is short sighted in not recognising the added value HEFF brings to the food and drink industry and the contribution made to the economy through its activities.

The closure of HEFF will have significant repercussions for business across eight of the English counties. Whilst the immediate job losses at HEFF will be 15 the knock on effect is likely to see 100’s of jobs within small businesses put at risk. Over the past 16 years it is estimated that HEFF has generated in the region of £90m GVA through its work, created and safeguarded in excess of 2,000 jobs and supported at least 2,800 food and drink manufacturers.

As a board we are rightly proud of HEFF’s achievements over the years. These are due to the support of partner businesses we have worked with across the supply chain, the dedication and commitment of directors and members of staff, past and present, and the quality of food and drink being produced by our members.

Even at this late stage, we are hopeful that a solution may be found before a meeting for shareholders which will be convened by Rimes and Co on the 9 July 11.00am at Stone Manor Hotel Kidderminster. A meeting for creditors will follow the shareholders meeting with the purpose of confirming the appointment of a Liquidator.

The Board of Directors, HEART of ENGLAND fine foods Ltd.”

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