Unitech Group Investment Fund has supported the purchase of the trade and assets of Newcastle-based Bob Crosby Agencies from administrators RSM Restructuring Advisory.
The deal brings a conclusion to a situation that has been developing for almost two weeks, when it emerged that Crosbys had notified suppliers it was facing cashflow challenges and approached RSM for support with safeguarding the future of the business.
Bob Crosby Agencies, trading as Crosbys, was established in 1990 and has grown to be one of the largest independent suppliers of catering equipment and chemicals in the North East with a turnover of £8m.
The new company, which began trading on 6 April 2018, is named Crosbys Catering Supplies. However, the project side of the business will be incorporated into sister Unitech Group distributor ScoMac Catering Equipment, which is based in Livingston with offices in Cambridge and Leeds, headed by Steve Shepherd, operations director.
Unitech reported that the buyout will safeguard 38 local jobs.
However, Catering Insight understands that debts accrued by Bob Crosby Agencies will not be taken on by the new entity. Regional manufacturer representatives have reported monies owed stretching into tens of thousands of pounds.
Steve Ross and Matt Higgins of RSM Restructuring Advisory were appointed Joint Administrators of Crosbys on 5 April 2018. Following the appointment of administrators, the business was successfully sold to Unitech Group Investment Fund.
Crosbys Catering Supplies will be supported by Unitech’s group finance director Mark Street and the full Crosbys team, including Roger and Ben Crosby, who are the sons of founder Bob Crosby.
Street said: “Crosbys has an exciting future with the ongoing financial support of The Unitech Group Investment Fund. They will continue to offer superb service delivering light equipment, chemicals, disposables, crockery and cooking equipment with an increased offering across the North East – maintaining national coverage with local service.”
RSM’s Higgins added: “The sale to Unitech is an excellent result which not only saves 38 local jobs but ensures continuity of service for its loyal customers and safeguards a well-known, established North East business. We wish them every success under the stewardship of Unitech.”
Meanwhile, Crosbys’ non-executive chairman, Joe Docherty, departed his role last month, according to a filing on the Companies House website. He has owned 30% of the business’ shares since he joined the board in 2014.
Docherty has also been chief executive of Newcastle College Group since 2013 and is a trustee of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, a charity which supports education, arts, environment and social change.