The High Court has appointed an interim examiner to an award-winning Tipperary food manufacturing company that employs 18 people.
McEvoy Family Foods Ltd, which produces fresh soups, sauces, and garlic breads for Supervalu, Lidl, and others, got into financial difficulties due to factors which include high start-up costs, lack of bank funding, and bad debts.
The managing director is Gary McEvoy, whose wife Jane was a contestant on the UK version of The Apprentice earlier this year. She also works for the company, the court heard.
The court was told the firm’s directors believe it has “a viable future” and are confident of bringing in new investment ensuring the company’s survival and preserving the jobs.
Yesterday at the High Court, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan appointed Neil Hughes as interim examiner to the company after being told that while the company is insolvent and unable to pay its debts as they fall due, an independent accountant’s report said the firm has a reasonable prospect of survival should a number of conditions be met.
These include securing new investment to pay a dividend to the firm’s creditors. Its main creditors include companies that supply McEvoy’s with produce and packaging.
Mr Hughes now has 100 days to come up with a scheme of arrangement with the firm’s creditors that, subject to approval from the High Court, will ensure the firm can continue to trade.
Ross Gorman, for the company, said a number of parties have expressed interest in investing in the firm.
He said McEvoy’s sought the protection of the court from its creditors because of higher than expected start-up costs, and long delays in contract start dates.
The costs arose from the company having to relocate to its current location in Clonmel to bring it up to the high standards required by its customers.
Mr Gorman said the firm’s bankers were unable to offer finances it required, resulting in it obtaining alternate funding at a higher cost. The firm also had bad debts of about €160,000.
It was in the interests of all parties that an examiner be appointed as the deficit of liabilities over assets in the event of the company being wound up was €1.1m compared to a deficit of €698,000 on a going concern basis.
Counsel said the company was set up in 2009 and is located at Carrigeen Business Park, Clonmel, Co Tipperary. Its directors are Gary McEvoy, Webbsborough Ballyfoyle, Co Kilkenny, and his aunt Noreen McBride, of Rossmore Grove, Templeogue, Dublin.
Counsel said Mr McEvoy had worked as chef at a number of high-profile and Michelin-starred restaurants before moving into food manufacturing. Counsel said that since being established the company has been successful and “has won a number of awards for its products”.
The firm produces a number of own-brand products such as soups, garlic breads, and sauces for Lidl Ireland and Musgrave, owner of the SuperValu brand.
Lidl, counsel said, had agreed in principle to launching the firm’s products in Lidl’s UK stores by the end of the year.
The company has also developed its own range of baby food products. However, due to its financial difficulties it had to pull back from discussions with another large retailer.
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