Gill’s Cruise Centre directors clashed over rescue plans for the agency in the months before its failure, a creditors’ report on the collapse has revealed.
The report sheds light on the failure and the pre-packed administration that saw Gill’s bought by Robert Gill & Son, a company registered by P&P Associates director Phil Cook on July 13.
Gill’s ceased trading on July 14, leaving cruise lines an estimated £18 million out of pocket.
The report reveals former directors Mervyn Harris and Steve Philippou, who each took a 15% stake in December 2010, planned to restructure Gill’s. They wanted to target 20% growth and chairman Alistair Gill removed from the board.
Gill disagreed and remained. He brought in Aiden Treacy, an insolvency expert, who joined the board after Harris and Philippou left, to see through an alternative rescue plan.
This saw costs reduced but Gill’s needed further help and talks on a rescue with £2 million from the Welsh government started.
However, cruise lines refused to back this, and in June they made changes to payment terms that precipitated Gill’s collapse.
Complete Cruise Solution did give Gill’s £2 million of “short-term funding” at the end of 2010 and bank RBS supported it over the winter with a £500,000 overdraft.
Gill’s increased earnings in 2010 to £11.4 million, but profits fell from £265,000 in 2009 to £158,260.
In this period Gill’s trademark and intellectual property rights were sold to the personal pension fund of Alistair Gill for £470,000, a transaction that “will be reviewed by the administrator”.
Both Harris and Gill had personal guarantees to Abta and Gill to RBS.
The firm’s assets were sold to Robert Gill & Son on July 18 for £50,000. The report makes no mention of P&P Associates, despite an announcement on July 15 that it had bought the assets.
The report said a pre-packed administration was the “best available option” given the financial constraints of a “lengthy marketing period”.