The crunch bunch

Last year’s punishing economic conditions pushed many companies into administration. We take a look at the big UK cases

The tough market environment that has caused the collapse of a number of major businesses continued last year. Household names as well as global giants in a number of industries went into administration after failing to repay creditors, pay tax or discovering irregularities in their accounts.

The administrations were good news for lawyers and insolvency practitioners, however. Linklaters and Mayer Brown both picked up roles on two headline administrations, while some of the more locally focused business collapses saw instructions for firms such as Biggart Baillie.

Petroplus Refining & Marketing / Petroplus Refining Teeside

Went into administration: 24 January

Administrators: PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Steven Pearson and Ian Green, instructing Linklaters partner Chris Howard and SNR Denton partner Nigel Barnett

Two subsidiaries of Swiss-owned oil company Petroplus went into UK administration in January as the company collapsed with debts of $2.3bn (£1.4bn). Although the company had collapsed the Teeside refinery in Coryton kept operating at a loss while administrators sought buyers for the site and its assets. PwC partner Pearson said the administration had been “exceptionally difficult”.

Rangers FC

Went into administration: 13 February

Administrators: Duff & Phelps’ Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, instructing Biggart Baillie

Company: Axiom Advocates’ Roddy Dunlop QC

Rangers was forced into administration in February by HM Revenue & Customs over the non-payment of some £14m of tax. A consortium led by Charles Green, now chief executive, purchased Rangers’ assets worth £5.5m in July and the ‘old’ Rangers is now in liquidation.


Went into special administration: 16 March

Administrators: KPMG partners Jane Moriarty and Samantha Bewick, instructing Reed Smith partners Charlotte Møller and Richard Spafford, and South Square Chambers’ Glen Davis QC and Jeremy Goldring

Spread betting company WorldSpreads was placed in special administration in March 2012 after the discovery of accounting irregularities. The company owed nearly £30m to clients, but had cash balances of almost £17m. By November the High Court had -approved the first distribution to clients of 3p in the pound.

Game Group

Went into administration: 26 March

Administrators: PwC partner Mike Jervis, instructing Linklaters partner Bruce Bell and associate Richard Hodgson

Company: Clifford Chance partners Iain White and Mark Hyde and Deloitte partners Neville Kahn, Stephen Knight and Jas Sahota

Video game retailer Game Group went into administration in March owing millions to creditors. Administrators PwC announced the closure of 277 stores, selling the remaining 333 to investment firm OpCapita on 1 April.

Clinton Cards

Went into administration: 9 May

Administrators: Zolfo Cooper partners Peter Saville, Simon Freakley and Anne O’Keefe, instructing Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ryan Beckwith

Company: Travers Smith partners Jeremy Walsh and Andrew Gillen

Greetings card retailer Clinton Cards went into administration in May with debt of £35m. In June Lakeshore Lending, a subsidiary of American Greetings, bought almost 400 stores. The administrators announced in July the remaining stores would close.

Town Centre Restaurants

Went into pre-pack administration: 26 June

Administrators: Zolfo Cooper partners Nick Cropper, Fraser Gray and Anne O’Keefe, instructing Kennedys partner Dino Paganuzzi

Town Centre Restaurants, owner of the Cafe Giardino and Auberge brands, went into pre-pack administration in June after falling revenues and pre-tax losses. Around two-thirds of the company’s restaurants were bought in a management buyout.

Ethel Austin

Went into administration: 18 July

Administrators: Duff & Phelps’ Philip Duffy and Sarah Bell, instructing Mayer Brown partner Ashley Katz

Clothing company Ethel Austin went into administration for the fourth time in five years in July. It was bought out of administration two weeks later by Ricli Limited, which acquired the majority of the company’s shops.

JJB Sports

Went into pre-pack administration: 1 October

Administrators: KPMG partners Brian Green, David Costley-Wood and Richard Fleming, instructing Herbert Smith Freehills partners Will Pearce, Gareth Roberts, Ewen Fergusson and Kevin Pullen

Struggling sports clothing and equipment retailer JJB Sports sold 20 stores to rival retailer Sports Direct, with a further 133 shops closing after the company went into administration in October.

Manganese Bronze

Went into administration: 22 October

Administrators: PwC partners Tony Barrell, Matthew Hammond, Ian Green and Mike Jervis, instructing Wragge & Co partners Julian Pallett, Richard Haywood and director Jasvir Jootla

Manganese Bronze, maker of London’s iconic black cabs, suspended trading of its shares in October and the administrators were then brought in. The administration followed the discovery of a steering fault in 400 vehicles, which is being rectified.


Went into administration: 2 November

Administrators: Deloitte partners Neville Kahn, Nicholas Edwards and Christopher Farrington, instructing Mayer Brown partner Ashley Katz and Bingham & McCutchen partner Liz Osborne

Company: Macfarlanes

Electronics retailer Comet went into administration in early November, with hundreds of redundancies. Administrators Deloitte tried to find a buyer for the company’s shops, but after the efforts failed, Comet’s remaining stores closed in December.