Landgard UK chief quits after fall of Focus

Richard Egerton resigns after Focus debt exposure revelations as suppliers find creditors are unlikely to recover losses.

Landgard has shareholder backing - image: HW
Landgard has shareholder backing - image: HW

Landgard UK managing director Richard Egerton has become a high-profile victim of the collapse of DIY/garden centre chain Focus after he left the plant supplier, which is owed more than £2.5m by Focus.

Non-executive chairman Jim Floor confirmed Egerton was in the process of resigning after the German owners realised the size of the Focus debt - some £2.5m.

Floor, who is stepping in as commercial director to run Landgard UK day to day, added: "The shareholders and chief executive have pledged 100 per cent support for the UK business. Unfortunately, Richard has resigned."

A new report from administrators at Ernst & Young shows hundreds of trade creditors across the UK are expected to be £60m out of pocket, while HM Revenue & Customs will take a £7m hit.

The report by Simon Allport, Tom Jack and Alan Hudson shows that when the Crewe-based company collapsed in May its private equity owner Cerberus was owed £214.7m. Ernst & Young said the creditors were unlikely to recover any of their losses.

The sale of Focus assets is expected to generate more than £43m. Ernst & Young has sold 55 of the chain's 178 stores to Kingfisher, Wickes and B&M Retail. Wickes and B&M will take on 536 of Focus's 4,000 staff. Almost all of the remaining 123 stores have been closed.

Gardman, Sinclair and Forest told HW they had taken steps to minimise exposure. Scotts UK general manager Martin Breddy said: "This was a significant loss but our UK market share stands at an all time high and this should drive recovery in 2012."

Chessum Plants sales director David White said after selling its sales and marketing operation to Landgard UK in February 2010 it was not owed anything by Focus, despite the company being listed as owing £745,000 in the creditors' list.


"We're only a small creditor when you look at the numbers involved. I think all the suppliers were in this with their eyes open, given that credit insurance was removed so long ago. In a difficult marketplace we are all inclined to take turnover wherever we can, but we set a limit to the exposure we were prepared to take."

Peter Woolley, sales and marketing director, Doff Portland

"We get credit insurance with just about all of our customers. Other companies have provision for bad debt. If you can't get credit insurance you take your own view on the risk. Retention title, payment days and letters of credit are part of this. We trade some stock through wholesalers who invoice so the debt lies with them and they owe us the money."

Danny Adamson, retail managing director, William Sinclair


Bayer Garden £170,000
De Ree UK £213,000
Deroma UK £257,000
Doff Portland £37,000
Draper Tools £217,000
Einhell £465,000
Fiskars UK £476,000
Fiskars Brands UK £421,000
Forest Garden £599,000
Garden Centre Plants £134,000
Gardman £299,000
Haemmerlin £44,000
Highland Heathers £44,000
Hozelock £1m
Husqvarna £2m
Landgard (Trading Account) £223,000
Landgard UK £1.5m
Li-Lo Leisure £405,000
Meredith Nurseries £1.5m
Mr Fothergill's £146,000
Plant Sarus £281,000
Plant Sarus (Trading Account) £126,000
Proteam £2.7m
Scotts Company UK £5.9m
Sinclair £46,000

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