Marketing agency to major firms can’t pay its debts

A marketing agency, whose clients include some of the country’s biggest firms, is unable to pay its debts, the Circuit Civil Court was told yesterday.

Barrister Ross Gorman told Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin that the website design company Huguenot XMi Ltd, through its Cork-based directors, Daniel Noel Coughlan MD and Dan Byrne, was seeking court protection from its creditors while a financial rescue plan was sought. Mr Gorman said Mr Coughlan, of Foxford Drive, Garryduff, Cork, and Mr Byrne, of Merton Lodge, Model Farm Rd, Cork, were asking the court to put the company in examinership, as it was insolvent.

Judge Ní Chúlacháin granted the company’s request and appointed Joseph Walsh, chartered accountant with Hughes Blake, as interim examiner to draw up a survival plan to save the company and the jobs of its 14 employees.

Finbarr Buckley, of Buckley and Co Auditors and Accountants, stated in an independent expert report for the court that Huguenot XMi Ltd stands a reasonable prospect of survival in examinership.

Mr Buckley told the court the company, from its outlets in French Church St, Cork, and Upper Exchange House, Temple Bar, Dublin, provided services ranging from design planning and digital content to branding and identity development, packaging design, and advertising. It enjoyed continued relationships with Kerry Group, Meteor, Coca-Cola, Dunnes Stores, Dalata Hotel Group, Dublin Airport Authority, Top Oil, Layla Healthcare, and Permanent TSB.

It had been hit by a reduction in turnover and the general economic downturn caused the company combined losses of more than €1m between 2011 and 2016.

Mr Buckley said the company, incorporated in 2007, had secured funding from Ulster Bank Ireland in 2008 and Ulster Bank Commercial Services, but these had withdrawn banking facilities, which had been linked to a personal guarantee with Mr Coughlan. Both bank entities had sold Mr Coughlan’s debt connection and the company’s entire indebtedness connection to a US private-equity fund, a subsidiary of Cerberus.

Mr Gorman said the company owed €154,577 to Revenue, which, along with Cerberus (owed €90,000) constituted the two main creditors. He told Judge Ní Chúlacháin that negotiations had already started on a rescue plan, which included a 10% cut in salaries and a saving of €135,000 by staff taking on previously-outsourced work.

The matter was put back until next month.


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