Chairman Ken Anderson speaks exclusively on bwfc.co.uk
Although we don’t like to air our dirty laundry in public, I feel as if I have to make a response to the statement Paul Heathcote issued on a social media site on Monday evening and to the notices that were placed by his staff within the Pure Bar at Whites.
I have noted the comments he has made and I acknowledge his support of BWFC for a number of years. Hopefully, he will continue to do so.
As regards, his comments concerning non-payment, I would make the following observations:
When I first met with Paul, Gary Bates and David Cura back in March 2016, I explained to them that our senior management team and several of the previous board had brought to my attention that they had found that the Special Catering Company (SCC) agreement was virtually unworkable commercially.
Since then, there have been numerous meetings and discussions but unfortunately, to date, no real progress has been made.
Obviously, I have to be careful just how much I say here, but I would mention that SCC have opted not to pay capex (capital expenditure) monies due to us of circa £120,000 in accordance with the agreement and despite numerous pledges made, over many months.
This has culminated in us choosing not to pay them monies totaling a similar amount to the capex monies due to us. The contract does not mention being able to set off the capex monies against the trading debt but that was probably because this situation was never envisaged at the outset.
Indeed, we offered to offset one against the other but they declined this offer. They have by prior agreement retained matchday cash sales over the period that is in question.
It’s worth noting that we are one of the largest events venues in the North West, the majority of which is food and beverage sales that contributes to our biggest revenue stream. The agreement is very one-sided and provides them with 80% to our 20% share of this revenue.
It’s important to note that our 20% has to cover all sales and marketing, maintenance, fees, rates, depreciation, replacement costs etc. As I’m sure you can appreciate, this is unsustainable going forward.
Furthermore, the agreement states that payment has to be made weekly on the following Wednesday. Often, this means we are being requested to pay monies we have not even received (i.e credit card takings) particularly at weekends and even more so over Christmas and the New Year.
For the record, monies they are chasing and saying are unpaid are for January and in the normal course of business, would not be due for payment for at least 30 days i.e. the end of February.
I am sure you can appreciate the agreement does not make commercial sense for the club/hotel. Indeed, we maintain that it actually costs us money, which is particularly galling when our staff work so hard in marketing and promoting the businesses and often go beyond the call of duty in the effort and hours they put in.
I have previously mentioned that when we acquired the club that there were a number of contracts/agreements that needed to be addressed and this is one of them, but unfortunately, SCC have categorically refused to discuss the current terms and conditions.
He also mentioned that he is concerned about paying his staff but they do have protection in place.
I too have a team that I need to protect and the recent threat of refusing or reducing service puts the business under immense pressure. The contract clearly mentions remedies for non-payment, but they do not include threats of winding up actions if payment is only days late or withdrawing services instantly. There is a process and Heathcote & Co have not adhered to it.
There is a great deal more I could say about the conditions of this contract but now is not the time or place.
In conclusion, I have offered to meet with them to see if there is a solution and a better way forward for both businesses, but this has been declined. As always, my door remains open for further discussions.