Calanike Retailing boss Kenny Webster is “absolutely furious” with Allied Irish Bank (AIB), following its shock decision to put his petrol retailing group into receivership, at the same time as placing his drinks manufacturing business – Sangs – into administration.
He said the move had put the livelihoods of more than 250 families at risk.
“To say that this has come as a shock is more than an understatement,” said Kenny. “Allied Irish decided to put Sangs into administration with almost immediate effect, giving us absolutely no opportunity to discuss it with them, or find an alternative solution, despite our pleas. That would be shocking enough but given that Sangs is a company in profit, in growth, with, despite information to the contrary, no cashflow issue and has never defaulted on a loan interest or supplier payment, I am completely at a loss to understand why they’ve done this.”
AIB also used a cross-guarantee to put Calanike in receivership. “Previous to this, they had never once discussed the health of the company with us – this is a company that has net assets valued at almost £5m, an excellent credit rating and, in our last financial year, profit before tax of £192,000.
“Together with my team, I’ve poured my heart and soul into these businesses and to have them ripped away like this without warning is beyond heart-breaking,” added Kenny. “But more than that, I cannot see how AIB can possibly defend its actions. It’s put the jobs of more than 250 people on the line without giving us the opportunity to refinance, which we could easily have done. They even knew about plans to sell Calanike, which would have totally cleared our debt.
“How on earth can this be described as responsible banking? I always believed that if you did the right thing – made sure payments were made on time, staff were taken care of, you turned a profit and were an ethical businessman – then things would be fine. We’ve even been in active talks with other organisations to grow sustainable employment in the northeast, an area we’ve been deeply committed to. I’m absolutely furious – not just for me, but for every member of staff we employ.”
Kenny is working with his lawyer, accountant and corporate advisory and restructuring specialist Zolfo Cooper to investigate all possible options regarding the future of both Calanike and Sangs.
Originally from Glasgow, entrepreneur Kenny Webster first entered into business at the age of 20, leasing a petrol station in 1983. He launched Calanike in 1998, growing the business to 19 forecourts in locations around Scotland before also acquiring Sangs soft drinks in July 2007. Under Webster’s leadership, Sangs’ flagship brand Macb has grown to top 50 Scottish brand in just four years, representing a £4.2m retail value and selling 5.2 million litres of water every year.