Alert over care homes going bust; Mike Ashley eyes Debenhams (but suppliers and staff could lose out); and Nando’s deny they’re in crisis

Alert over care homes going bust; Mike Ashley eyes Debenhams (but suppliers and staff could lose out); and Nando’s deny they’re in crisis

Last week saw 25,000 retail workers potentially lose their jobs – more than double the number of people in the UK fishing industry – the current bone of contention in the Brexit negotiations.

With the economy spiralling out of control with retailers, restaurants, pubs and cafes going out of business in record numbers due to the Covid-19 crisis there has never been a better time to pick up a business in administration for a song.

Mike Ashley circles Debenhams

The free-wheeling businessman and owner of Newcastle United FC and Sports Direct is reported to be in talks with the administrators.

Mike Ashley has been in negotiations with Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory ahead of Wednesday when Hilco are expected to start closing the stores after a frenetic weekend of sales with all of them shut by Easter.

Ashley’s Fraser Group are behind the move and it will all come down to how much he’ll up his original offer of £150m and how much stock is left.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “The Fraser Group have waited for Debenham’s price to be at its lowest as it’s effectively a fire sale with everything must go. Once in administration there’s no compulsion to pay outstanding bills, pay suppliers and staff or even the back dated rents to landlords.”

He said ICSM Credit understands Ashley is only after a small number of stores – essentially the most profitable ones – along with the stock and online business.

Care home crisis

The BBC have reported that 25% of care homes will go out of business due to the Covid-19 crisis. In a study carried out by analysts for BBC Radio 4’ consumer programme You and Yours they found 715 of the 2,731 operators could close due to cash flow issues.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said the homes employed huge numbers of suppliers, from printers to cleaners, and from caterers to lawyers. “We have warned members of our credit intelligence group about getting in too deep with care homes as several have gone into administration this year leaving suppliers unpaid.”

The reasons are simple. Relatives have been pulling their senior family members out of the homes due to the high death rate of residents from Covid-19 while the newly retired are preferring to stay at home rather than move in. With fewer residents there is simply less money while costs due to PPE and advanced cleanliness have risen. The BBC found a substantial number of care homes were hundreds of thousands of pounds in debt.

The BBC reported: “More than half a million people in the UK receive care at home. About 80% of it is paid for by local authorities - each one sets its own hourly rate. The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) thinks there should be a minimum payment which all councils pay for care, of £20.69 per hour. But research by the association in 2018, suggests only one in seven local councils in the UK pay this much.”

Ian Carrotte said that is fairly obvious that the sector’s future was unsustainable without legislation forcing local authorities to pay more and for taxes and support from Government to increase.

Nando’s deny crisis debt talks

This year has seen a long list of cafes, restaurants and brasseries go to the wall as the Government effectively closed them down to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Le Pain Quotidien, Pizza Express, Byron Burger and Pret A Manger to name but a few who have struggled to survive.

The Daily Telegraph reported the Nando chain were in crisis talks with lenders as it struggled to keep going. The BBC business desk reported: “Accounts filed at Companies House show that the chain's parent firm raised £100m from shareholders in September.”

Nando’s strongly denied there was a problem saying it had opened 24 new outlets before Covid bringing the total to 434 UK  restaurants and although revenues rose, profits fell. They said all their restaurants were open where restrictions allowed except the one at Gatwick Airport and: “The next covenant test on the firm's loans was six months away. Given the rapidly changing situation, there are no detailed talks with banks on this yet. Clearly if the vaccine roll-out progresses, we will be in a different position then than now, but in general, Nando's have had ongoing and constructive talks with all their banks."

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said the Daily Telegraph clearly had a source inside Nandos or their main lender and got wind of something that hinted that not all was it should be. He said: “Frankly suppliers are right to be cynical as saying all is well with a business is a bit like a football club endorsing their manager after a string of defeats. You fear for what will happen next.”

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel - while at the moment there's a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach - ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website or email Ian at on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website or send an email to

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit

Tel 0844 854 1850 ___ Fax 01454 327 355
Privacy Policy   © ICSM All Rights Reserved