Rural Retailer Countrywide Appoints Administrators



Rural retailer Countrywide appoints administrators
8th March 2018

By Karen Pickwick
Countrywide Farmers plc has gone into administration.
“It is with significant regret that the Countrywide retail business, which trades from 48 stores and employs over 700 staff, will now face a very uncertain future,” a spokesman said.
Countrywide comprised a highly profitable LPG business and an unprofitable retail business, together with a significant legacy pension scheme liability and a freehold property portfolio.
In April last year, the board announced its intention to explore the sale of the retail business, having already taken action to reduce the cost base and close loss-making stores to improve profitability. The aim of this was to create a sustainable restructured Company that could support the pension scheme.
The directors sought to preserve the current corporate structure with a profitable LPG business and property portfolio and in October agreed terms to sell the retail business to Mole Valley Farmers. This, however, was subject to review by the Competition and Markets Authority and as this sale was taking longer than expected, the board decided to sell of the LPG business to maximise value to creditors. The sale of this business to DCC plc was completed on March 1 for £28.75m.
Proceeds from this sale have been largely used to pay down banking facilities with HSBC – but the retail sale has not received approval from the Competition and Markets Authority, which means it could take a further six months before any deal could be approved.  
“After receiving extensive professional advice, the board has concluded that it will be unable to meet its financial obligations for this extended period of time,” a spokesman said. “The board therefore confirms today that it has filed a notice appointing David Pike, Mark Orton and William Wright, partners of KPMG LLP to act as administrators of the company. Following their appointment, the administrators will determine the appropriate course of action and future for the business.”