Manufacturing: Norwich

Despite recent press reports that car manufacturing is one of the bright spots on an otherwise gloomy economic picture, not every part of the supply chain is thriving.

Premium brands such as Jaguar and Range Rover are fairing especially well, particularly in the export markets in the Far East, but manufacturers Goodwood Metalcraft Limited was recently obliged to call in the SFP Group to manage its administration.

Goodwood Metalcraft was formed by the members of The Goodwood Estate Company Limited (GEC) in 1960 when it traded as a manufacturer of steel tableware with one customer, who then distributed its product across the UK – it became best known for its stainless steel carving plate. A year earlier, GEC had a reduction in the employees required to work within the estate grounds. Accordingly, the Company was incorporated to provide alternative employment for those redundant employees.

In the 1990s the company purchased its cryogenics division, making it one of only three manufacturers in the UK – and had capabilities in all forms of quality press work, including deep drawing, flow forming, spinning, machining and bespoke fabrication, all in a wide variety of materials.

One of its more prestigious accounts was working for Lotus Cars Limited, the Hethel-based manufacturer of high-performance sports cars made particularly famous for being the one-time manufacturer of preference for 007 James Bond. Goodwood fashioned Lotus’ fuel tanks, and also worked for the world-famous kitchen appliance manufacturer Kenwood, producing mixing bowls. Indeed so successful was the company that at one stage in 2008 it was turning over in excess of £4.5 million and employed 39 people at its Terminus Industrial Estate base.

Then the situation took a turn for the worse. Pressure from cheaper Far Eastern imports led to a sizeable reduction in the Kenwood account that accounted for approximately 50 percent of the company’s revenues. During 2011 and into early 2012, the company continued to struggle with its cash flow position due to rising raw material prices and the negative pension position. This was further impacted by a reduction in the motor industry leading to a decrease in orders from one of their main customers by 30 percent.

As a result of mounting pressure from creditors, the Directors sought professional advice from SFP to ensure all of the options available to the Company were considered. The Directors subsequently decided that the company should be placed into Administration on 2nd January 2013, in order to protect the business and maximise returns to creditors.

The Joint Administrators traded Goodmans up until 1st February 2013 while a potential purchaser of the business and assets was sought. The trading period allowed certain work to be completed and invoiced, customer undertakings to be obtained in respect of the sales ledger and new invoicing and customer undertakings to be obtained in respect of the sales ledger and new invoicing. Unfortunately, no purchaser was found. Accordingly, the assets were sold by auction by asset valuers instructed in this matter.

Even then, the administrators still hoped to find a willing buyer: “We kept the company trading over a number of weeks, completing a backlog of outstanding orders to maintain goodwill and in the hope of finding an interested party willing to purchase the business and assets as a going concern,” Daniel said. “Although this did not prove possible, we have managed to sell the assets on a piecemeal basis via auction that will return a sum to creditors via dividends.”

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