Hart carries on after deal to minimise losses

Growers affected by Hart being placed in administration are cautious about the buying group's return to business.

Buying group Hart is back in business, despite growers’ reservations. It owes around £750,000, including £500,000 to nurseries and trade suppliers such as Gardman, after going into administration (HW, 15 December 2005). Administrator Robert Young of Middleton Partners said a four-year company voluntary arrangement (CVA) will begin to pay creditors back after Hart came out of administration on 21 February. Eighty per cent of creditors voted for the deal. Accountant Ron Fleming of Allensmore Nurseries, which is owed £8,000, said voting for Hart to continue was the “lesser of two evils” because it will give creditors 58 per cent of the money owed, rather than 30 per cent if the company went into liquidation. Fleming said it was a “marginal” decision on whether to vote for Hart to carry on. He added that “strings are attached” after he spotted an error in the directors’ submission for financial forecast, which “raises the question of how good the administrators are”. “On Hart’s past performance, there are lots of question marks. I think it’s going to be very difficult for someone like Hart to operate in a market that has lost confidence,” Fleming said. A nursery-owning creditor who did not want to be named said it was only because of “desperate” nurseries with crops they needed to sell that Hart was still in business. Hart director Jessica Adams said: “We have got a lot of reassuring to do. I don’t expect there’ll be a lot of confidence at the moment.”

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