Waste disposal: Aylesham

Where there’s muck, so the saying has it, there’s usually brass. And so it was for more than 40 years for the Aylesham-based waste disposal firm, Clearers (South East) Limited, which specialised in the construction industry. But when the economy started to dip, money became tight and debts started to mount, Clearers called with the nationwide insolvency practitioners, SFP, to help them find a solution.

Clearers can trace its roots back to 1967, when the company was founded to provide waste disposal services, operating two vehicles from premises in Margate. The company, which has always been a family concern, grew steadily, generating the majority of its business (in excess of 80 percent) from the construction industry. By 2007, the company was turning over more than £3 million and had expended its vehicle fleet to 17.

Unfortunately, this was the zenith of the company’s powers: a venture which involved renting a recycling plant proved unsuccessful, and even with the company refocusing on its core business, cashflow was becoming tight. A number of competitors acquired recycling plants of their own which meant they could under-cut Clearer’s prices. It also led to the loss of certain significant contracts.

Struggling to meet its liabilities, and particularly its obligations to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Clearers sought professional advice from SFP’s forensic accounting business (SFP Forensic) which helped to negotiate Time to Pay and buy the business some crucial breathing space. A difficult business environment, however, was made worse by the exceptionally poor winter. The Time to Pay arrangement was breached, leading SFP to carry out a complete Business Review in February 2013 after HMRC had written to Clearers advising it of an intention to seize goods by way of Distraint notice.

The review revealed the full extent of the company’s challenges, and despite the confidence of the senior management that they could trade their way out of difficulties, it was not to be, and the family decided to place the company into Administration by way of a director appointment. SFP’s Daniel and Simon Plant – licensed members of the Insolvency Practitioners’ Association – were appointed Joint Administrators of Clearers (South East) Limited on Friday May 3rd.    

In accordance with the pre-appointment strategy, the company’s business and assets were marketed for sale. Despite no third party offers being received, the previous owner confirmed an interest, and a sale was agreed. Crucially, the Administrators traded the business for several days before the sale was achieved, thus securing jobs and ensuring that Clearers could continue as a going concern.

“We are pleased that we have been able to preserve jobs within the business and given Clearers another chance of success,” says Simon Plant. “The original business might have survived had it not faced so many adverse factors in one go, and Clearers took the right steps to find help which ultimately led to a successful outcome.”

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