Penyards Bankrupt

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Creditors of Hampshire estate agency Penyards unlikely to see payback

Penyards Estate Agents, the dodgy (opinion) Hampshire estate agent which specialised in selling luxury homes with seven-figure price tags has collapsed into administration owing more than £1million.

It appears that most of the creditors owed money by Penyards are unlikely to see any payback.

Penyards have gone bust and neither they, nor No 17 Marketing, nor Begbie & Trainor are suggesting these unfortunate people will see money again. They could face ruin

According to sources, a number of people paid Penyards a deposit to hold property. The client accounts are drained and families will not be receiving any refund. Taking deposits to clear a company debt is a criminal offence and the police will be involved.

“Couldn’t happen to a nicer person!”

Jo Chard was acting as Graham’s PA and office manager in the last 6 months. Astonishingly, she has also been retained in the new company owned by No17 Marketing (aka Bernard Chill and Axton).

“The whole thing appears to be totally corrupt”

The name of Penyards, which has eight branches across the county, will not disappear as it has been the subject of a “pre-packaged sale” out of administration.

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Paul Grant Managing partner Bernard Chill & Axtell

Penyards has been taken over No.17 Marketing, one of whose directors is Paul Grant, managing partner of Southampton law firm Bernard Chill & Axtell.

Administrators Begbies Traynor sold the group of companies Penyards Country Properties Ltd, Penyards Country Properties (New Forest Ltd) and Penyards Country Lettings Ltd and their assets for £180,000 to No.17 Marketing.

The new owners will trade as Penyards but have not taken on the old firm’s debts.

The new Penyards advertising states that the company is in partnership with Bernard Chill & Axtell.

According to the administrator’s report it was Mr Grant who first contacted them to discuss Penyards’ financial position.

Incredibly, Graham and Lisa Evans, the former directors of Penyards, who live in Downton, are to be retained as consultants.

Gavin Savage, from the Southampton office of insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor, who managed the sale, had bad news for creditors: “As it currently stands there is unlikely to be return to unsecured creditors,” he said.

HM Revenue and Customs are the biggest creditor of Penyards with the taxman out of pocket to the tune of £422,000.

Other creditors included Lloyds Bank which is owed £232,000.

Lloyds, as the only secured creditor, were consulted by the administrators about the sale and did not raise any objections.

Begbies Traynor’s report suggests an anticipated return to Lloyds of just £65,000 to £75,000.

Other creditors include Fareham Borough Council (£4,004), Test Valley Borough Council which is owed almost £11,000 in rates, accountants Wilkins Kennedy (£18,282) and the Daily Echo’s parent company Newsquest.

Penyards, which specialised in the sale of luxury properties, recorded an operating loss of £131,000 at the end of 2014 and Mr Savage said that following the crash of 2008 Penyards had been hit by increased competition, lower fees and on line marketing.

The sale means that the jobs of the 32 Penyards staff and its offices in Winchester, Romsey, Stockbridge, Bishop’s Waltham, Titchfield, Lyndhurst, Fordingbridge, Burley and London have been saved.

An office at Brockenhurst was not part of the sales package and has closed but the staff have been redeployed to other branches.

Mr Savage said: “The company had been facing tough trading conditions in a sector we all recognise has continued to struggle, so it was therefore imperative that we acted quickly in order to ensure that people’s jobs were preserved.

“It became apparent to us that the Penyards name trades on its reputation as a long-established business in the area and that a speedy sale out of administration was the best course of action. We had to go through quite a complicated process to get to the right end result, but we are confident that the purchaser has the skills and team in place to ensure growth for the future and to establish the basis for a prosperous long-term future for the company.”

A spokesman for HMRC, the largest creditors, said it did not discuss individual cases but added: “We don’t just let a debt lie particularly such a large amount.

“Every case is followed and an attempt is made to get as much back into the public purse as possible.”

Paul Grant, director of No 17 Marketing, said that despite Penyards’ debts it was still a viable proposition if run in a “prudent way”.

Mr Grant said he was happy to have preserve a 30-year-old company with a well-known name.

He said that none of the existing customers of Penyards were out of pocket or had been inconvenienced by the change of ownership.

Mr Grant stressed that No.17 was a separate entity to Bernard Chill & Axtell of which he was managing partner.

Penyards Property Management Ltd based at 23 Southgate Street, Winchester, is a separate business which is not in financial difficulties.

Alan and Judith Davis bought the business in 1995 and it now has 300 landlords on its books and 13 members of staff.

Alan Davis, managing director of Penyards Property Management, said: “Penyards Property Management began in 1988 as the lettings department of Penyards Country Properties, the estate agents of the same name, but has operated as a separate business for 21 years since our purchase. Our customers should be assured that business is buoyant at Penyards Property Management.

“We are very sorry to hear the news about Penyards Country Properties but are pleased that the sale means jobs have been secured. We wish them all the best.”

WE WE NOT SO SORRY TO HEAR THE NEWS OF PENYARD’S BANKRUPTCY.  OPION: IT’S JUST CRIMINAL THAT THESE PEOPLE WERE ALLOWED TO OPERATE IN THE FIRST INSTANCE (Paul Tranter)