Tue, 23 Jan 2024 | BUSINESS SALE
Entrepreneur Heather Mills has acquired the assets of her plant-based food business VBites Foods out of administration. The company controversially fell into administration in December 2023, with Mills blaming factors including Brexit, supply and maintenance in the food sector and rising costs. Mills also singled out "opportunistic utility companies and their broker networks” and a "combination of corporate greed and poor management" as contributing to the company’s collapse.
James Clark and Howard Smith from Interpath Advisory were appointed joint administrators of VBites Foods, which was founded in 1993 and has manufacturing facilities in County Durham and Northamptonshire, on December 11 2023.
According to a report from the administrators, the company was impacted by an increase in costs, following its move to a new site in Peterlee. This was exacerbated by rising raw material prices, as well as increasing costs for labour and energy, while sales were hit by consumers choosing cheaper options as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
Due to these factors, the company had a large funding requirement to enable it to continue trading. However, negotiations with shareholders over further cash injections stalled, ultimately leading to the company being placed into administration.
Upon their appointment, the joint administrators sought to keep the business trading for a short period, in order to enable continuity for customers and maintain value ahead of a potential sale. Interpath has now agreed a £1 million sale of the company’s assets to a connected party owned by Heather Mills.
Commenting after the sale was announced, Mills said that the company had been placed into administration “unnecessarily with three days notice”, despite her saying she had given “viable solutions”.
Mills said that the company’s next generation technology “still had a huge role to play in assisting the transition of the food market to a healthier and more sustainable place.” As a result, and in order to secure the jobs of the firm’s employees, she said she had “chosen to resurrect the company myself, at great personal expense, and take control of the operations personally, moving back to the North East to ensure that we are still able to make a positive contribution to the future of our global food economy.”
She added that VBites “have already developed a version 2.0 of plant-based food, soon to launch, that we believe will be a market mover and will help all of those people attempting to make a flexitarian or plant-based/Vegan transition achieve their goals more easily”.
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