Jam Circus and the Royal Albert sold to 'new' pubco

Big Hospitality reports that 12 of the 14 pubs put up for sale when Antic Limited went in to administration. Jam Circus and the Royal Albert are among those acquired. The administrators claim they had more than 20 offers for the pubs.

The new owner is a company called Gregarious Limited, which has just been founded by Max Alderman, formerly the company secretary of Antic and currently the operations manager for Antic London.

The move should secure the future of these pubs and ensure that Jam Circus is reopened quickly. In the (temporary) absence of JC, Sounds Around and Smiles Thai Cafe, a fragment of Brockley's soul is missing.

With thanks to Simon.

37 comments:

MickeyMouse said...

Yay! Hurry up and reopen JC! 

Chris Wheal said...

Sounds like one of those classic dodgy bankruptcies - where the same people get rid of debts and carry on running the place leaving their suppliers screwed. All perfectly legal but leaving a nasty taste in everyone's mouth. I bet the food in Jam Circus will taste bitter after this.

IMadeItForYou said...

I don't understand how that's a thing.. but yay I guess?

Monkeyboy said...

That is indeed good news, sounds like they have sharp accountants/lawyers!

dp said...

pah! how convenient that alderman should be the one to get them.

good to hear it's reopening though

Gill said...

Exactly - will Rogue Traders be round?

You think so? said...

What makes you think any suppliers have been screwed? 

Just seems like they are rearranging a group of companies in the pub business. Pretty much par for the course in that business.

Simply Lorna said...

Dodgy, dodgy, dodgy. Company goes into admin and then reappears as a different name with different directors. I may like JC but I don't like their business ethics. Suppliers to the former company will be left unpaid. Dirty tactics.

Monkeyboy said...

I'm glad they are reopening but by definition someone owed money has lost out, that's why they went bankrupt - their debts outweighed their ability to pay. All very convoluted, does it mean that the administrator has recovered the money owed to the HMRC?

Simply Lorna said...

Couldn't agree more. It's shite.

Phoebe said...

Absolutely shameful. I lost my business through exactly this practice of admin then name change and run by the same people. I shall not be spending my money in there again.

On theother hand... said...

If true, considering what breweries are doing to the pubs, good on 'em.

Anyone know when smiles is reopening?

Monkeyboy said...

Assuming the debtors were all pantomime "fat cats" who can afford to loose money. The HMRC debt is "our" debt. Don't know the details but certainly appears a little sharp.....

maisie_moo said...

I agree it looks dodgy, and I'd like to know how profitable pubs ended up not able to pay their taxes.  On a more positive note, the article says the (independent) administrator received 20-odd offers, so this newco obviously had competition for the leases, and made the best offer.  Also, 200 jobs are safe (as safe as any job is these days...) 

You think so? said...

I suspect the only 'supplier' out of pocket is the HMRC and they will get whatever sum is agreed for the assets.  There seems to have been a lot of interest, so they will be sold for a fair price.

When people start businesses and they are successful, they often find that the company structure they started off with becomes a liability. 

This is a rather crude way to restructure a business, but without evidence of small suppliers being out of pocket, I would not be so quick to condemn the exercise.

Chris Wheal said...

 If the HMRC is out of pocket then benefits claimants are, the council's social services department is out of pocket, schools, hospitals and so on.

There is no difference to using bankruptcy as a tax avoidance method to Starbucks and Amazon not paying their fair share of taxes.

And in my experience - and it would be easy for Nick to phone the administrators and ask - there will be small suppliers out of pocket too.

Brockleylion said...

So a brewery opens on the doorstep of bars and pubs with mr lawrence wine bar in the mix of this Brockley brewery co hope there two vats can supply the need with gantry and orchard and talbot.

Shrievesy said...

If the HMRC is out of pocket that means we are all out of pocket .

Strange how people cant se how we all get ripped off 

Transpontine said...

While I am glad Jam Circus will reopen and that the Royal Albert is safe (for now) I won't be rushing to give them my money.

Antic Ltd was the second Antic company to go into administration in the last couple of years - its property wing TBAC (The Black Ant Company) went before it. That doesn't seem to act as a barrier to the same people involved setting up very similar new companies.

Everyone is up in arms about high street chains avoiding taxes, but when it's one of their favourite so-called independents it seems other rules apply. Of course if you drank at Royal Albert and Jam Circus you alreadly paid a significant amount of tax in the cost of your pint/bottle - seems Antic Ltd weren't quite so efficient about paying their share. Antic and its various offshoots run some good pubs, but there are some very sharp practices involved as various companies under its umbrella juggle their property and drinks interests. They have no real interest in the local community and would no doubt sell off their pubs to property developers (probably via yet another Antic-linked company) at the drop of a hat if it suited them and they could get away with it. Watch the Royal Albert particularly as the freehold is up for sale along with adjoining properties on New Cross Road. 

I would be interested in what happened to the staff of Jam Circus - were they paid all back pay owed to them plus redundancy (where they were so entitled). Will they get their jobs back when it reopens?

John said...

There seems to be some strong opposition to this behaviour and quite rightly so but I wonder whether this will affect the number of patrons coming through the door in the way that Starbucks was affected. I hope so but I suspect not.

You think so? said...

Anyone who has a had dealings with the tax authorities when running a business knows how draconian they can be with their fines.  Rather than part of some cunning ruse, some artful dodge, I suspect this is a survival strategy.  Once companies get big enough, they can afford tax experts to steer around the pitfalls.  Some of them are so good at it they pay no tax at all.  The assets of Antic Ltd have been sold and the money is going to pay the HMRC. Somehow, I doubt whether we are going to get a complete breakdown of how much was fines and estimates versus tax.

I am sure there are other PubCos out there that have far better laundered accounts and pay little tax.  Why?  Because most have huge debts caused by recklessly acquiring properties during the property boom.  They now have a long list of pubs they intend to dispose of, ruining many a publican in the process with their onerous leases. 

Would the beverages these pubs dispense better satisfy the palates of the high principled patrons hereabouts?

I doubt it.

Chris Wheal said...

I don't have time to argue with anyone hiding behind anonymous names such as  "You think so". Who do you work for, Who do you represent? Are you actually Max Alderman?

Have to guts to say things in your own name or shut up.

Chris Wheal said...

If this were my blog I'd be in touch with the administrators and ask them for the facts.

http://www.cvdfk.com/news/article.asp?view=2134

Go on Nick, ask them who the creditors were and how much it was sold for an which creditors got their money. This a is an official administration - you are entitled to ask. They have to tell you.

And tell us who the cowards are hiding behind phoney names?

Guest 1 said...

This is the last time I go there for a drink.

maisie_moo said...

You could always ask them yourself! 

You think so? said...

Chris, I represent no-one except myself and I have absolutely no connection with anyone involved.  I am simply presenting a different opinion which is somewhat different from yours.  If you don't like it, that is too bad.  It is perfectly valid, based on the same few facts as everyone else.

Now, silly sanctimonious rants like you have made show a rather naive attitude to the Internet and hyper local forums like this.  If you don't like anonymity and made up names, then this forum is clearly not for you.  I expect sooner or later, if you continue to bellow like an obnoxious neighbour, you will begin to realise why such discretion is important.

Perhaps, you might like to create your own blog rather than turn this one into a platform for your uninformed prejudices.  You can do your own cross examination of local businesses and and root out those you disapprove of.

I am sure you will gather a wide following.

Brockley Nick said...

"You think so?" has the IP address of someone who regularly posts here on a range of subjects. No reason to think they are connected to JC - just someone with a different point of view. 

Daniel Woods said...

its a pub - people get pissed, and have fun or not. in the process, they make big money out of people poisoning their livers. it's not a church. why do you expect moral leadership? and regarding tax avoidance/evasion, they, antic, gregarious, whatever, are small fry.

You think so? said...

Judging by the high minded tone of some of the remarks here, there are many in Brockley who could never enjoy a pint in any pub that did not observe the highest standards of fiscal proprietary.

Better to stick to those owned by big corporations, they are better at hiding their intrigues by hiring ex-HMRC folk as tax consultants and they manage their PR so only positive messages bother the public.

The crisis in the pub industry and all the closures has little to do with small concerns and everything to do with big property companies.  They accumulated huge portfolios of pub properties on the back of cheap credit during the boom.  Now they manipulate freeholds, leases and contracts to extract the maximum return, severely restricting the latitude any publican has to run a pub so that it is economically viable.

In this climate, where pubs are closing in huge numbers, small innovative companies like Antic are leading the way.  I am hoping that they, and other small concerns that are popping up, will lead a revival in well run, pleasant, pubs with good food and style and provide an important social focus for local communities.

For that reason, I cut them a bit of slack.

Brockley Dan said...

Very interesting. I was looking into raising the money to buy the freehold on the Royal Albert because apart from on the surface looking like it is being sold for a very good price, I am from the area and have loved the pub since it was an old favourite of mine as the Paradise Bar, but on looking into it I realised the tenants had stiched themselves up a deal.

Essentially the former freeholders and tenants look like they are one and the same. The freehold is in the hands of the bank presumably after the tenants failed to pay rent over an extended period. And the bank is now trying to sell it off. But anyone who wants to buy it won't because before going bankrupt the freeholder signed off a very favourable deal with the tenants lasting over a decade which makes the yield for a freeholder too low.

If this is the case the owners are ripping off the bank -- who will recoup the cost by raising everyone else's mortgages, HMRC who will have to recoup the cost from other tax payers AND the suppliers who as another poster has pointed out go bankrupt themselves.

As the Royal Albert is so popular the owner is presumably a very rich man.

unknown said...

Firstly, it sounds like no one who had commented so far knows the in and outs and the antic administration process or that of Antic London. As some of you have asked about staff they were all placed into other antic pubs soon after the fire and the administration hasn't effected their pay what-so-ever. As for which bid the administration team could of choose, they said from day 1 that Antic had a certain period of time to buy back the pubs and that they would get priority in the ownership. Many of the suppliers that antic London use now are still the same as pre-administration so I'm sure they have sorted out owned payment somehow. A lot of you assume that all this was caused by dodging tax, it wasn't, it was purely them asking to pay a week later and the tax man not accepting leading to the administration. As for Jam Circus, it will not be too much longer now. Process is happening! Watch this space!

AlanSE4 said...

I noticed that they have boarded up the front of the place today completely, hopefully they are getting to work on getting the place back up and running!

unknown said...

the boarding up is defiantly not a negative thing. it's just a matter of time now before we're back

unknown said...

food always has and always will be top quality!

LadyFelicity said...

That's great news. I, for one, am looking forward to the return of JC.

unknown said...

It's nice to see there's still some people out there supporting us instead of all this negative attitude going around regarding the administration. Thank You!!

number1JCsupporter said...

The re-opening party will be top notch!

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