Award-winning food firm assigned interim examiner

Sat, Aug 4, 2012, 01:00

THE HIGH Court has appointed an interim examiner to an award-winning Co Tipperary based food manufacturing firm that employs 18 people.

McEvoy Family Foods Ltd, which produces fresh soups, sauces and garlic bread for customers including SuperValu and Lidl, has got into financial difficulties due to factors including high start-up costs, lack of bank funding, and bad debts.

The firm’s managing director is Gary McEvoy, whose wife Jane was a contestant on the UK version of the popular television show The Apprentice earlier this year. Ms McEvoy, the court heard, works for the company.

The court also heard the firm’s directors believe it has “a viable future” and are confident of bringing in new investment to ensure the company’s survival and preserve the jobs.

Yesterday at the High Court Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan appointed Neil Hughes as interim examiner to the company after being told it is insolvent and unable to pay its debts as they fall due.

The judge said he was satisfied to appoint Mr Hughes, as an independent accountant’s report presented to the court said the firm has a reasonable prospect of survival should a number of conditions be met. These include securing new investment to pay a dividend to the firm’s creditors. Its main creditors include companies supplying produce and packaging.

Mr Hughes has up to 100 days to come up with a scheme of arrangement with the firm’s creditors and, subject to High Court approval, that will ensure the company can continue to trade.

Ross Gorman, counsel for the company, who petitioned the court for Mr Hughes’s appointment, said yesterday a number of parties have expressed interest in investing in the firm. He said the firm sought the court’s protection from its creditors because of higher than expected start-up costs and delays in contract start dates.

The costs arose from the company having to relocate to its current location in Clonmel in order to bring it up to the high standards required by its customers.

The acquisition of extra equipment also added to its costs. Mr Gorman said the firm’s bankers were unable to offer the finance it required, resulting in it obtaining alternative funding at a higher cost. The company also had bad debts of about €160,000.

It was in the interests of all parties that an examiner be appointed as the deficit of liabilities over assets in the event of the company being wound up was €1.1 million, compared with a €698,000 deficit on a going-concern basis.

Mr Gorman said the company was set up in 2009 and is located at Carrigeen business park, Clonmel, Co Tipperary. Its directors are Gary McEvoy, of Webbsborough, Ballyfoyle, Co Kilkenny, and his aunt Noreen McBride, of Rossmore Grove, Templeogue, Dublin.