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Farmers owed large sums after butcher Gerald David racks up £1.68 million in debts

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 18, 2013

By Chris Rundle

Gerald David started his butchery business in Minehead in 1969

Gerald David started his butchery business in Minehead in 1969

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Livestock farmers, auctioneers and a host of suppliers have been caught up in the spectacular collapse of what was once the West Country's foremost butchery chain.

Documents lodged at Companies House reveal Gerald David and Family had debts of more than £1.68 million when it went into administration in October.

More than £820,000 of that is owed in PAYE and VAT while former staff are due more than £153,000 in unpaid pension contributions and redundancy payments. And with administrators so far having identified assets of only £68,000, it is doubtful whether any of the trade creditors – owed more than £294,000 – will see anything back.

Gerald David started the business with a side street butchery in Minehead in 1969 but steadily expanded it to eight outlets across Somerset and Devon, all supplied from the company's own abattoir in Porlock. It also ran a mobile sales unit which appeared at agricultural shows across the region.

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But things started to go badly wrong for the company last year when it was ordered to pay fines and penalties of £15,000 after being prosecuted by Trading Standards.

The company had built its reputation on sourcing beef and lamb from Exmoor, with its shops, vehicles and website using images of sheep and cattle grazing on the moor. But a lengthy investigation revealed much of what was being sold as local meat had come from animals bought in the Midlands.

The company collapsed abruptly two months ago.

Apart from money owed to Revenue and Customs, debts include more than £253,000 to Lloyds Bank and £38,000 to EDF Energy. Somerset auctioneer Greenslade Taylor Hunt, which runs sales at Sedgemoor Livestock Centre, is owed more than £91,000 and Ludlow auctioneer McCartneys more than £125,000, while among more than 100 trade creditors the Davids' cheese supplier, Hawkridge Farmhouse Dairy, in Crediton, is owed more than £21,000, poultry supplier, Creedy Carver, also in Devon, more than £18,000, M and K Ingredient Supplies, of Exeter, £24,000 and pig farmer Steve Crossman, from Withycombe, near Minehead, £11,000.

But the statement of affairs also reveals Mr David and his wife, Jenny, have borrowed £364,131 on the business through a directors' loan account, with no indication of how much of that may be available to pay creditors.

Earlier this year Mr David officially retired from the business and went to live in Spain, handing everything over to his sons Alistair and Philip, but he has now returned to England.

The Davids have blamed the failure of the business on increased supermarket competition. But a former employee – who has been told there is a £5,000 shortfall in his pension contributions – said:"Everyone knew things hadn't been right for years. The only surprise is that it has taken this long for it to come to a head."

A creditors' meeting is being held in Exeter tomorrow and is expected to appoint insolvency experts Kirks of Exeter as administrators.

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