Former First Quench distributor makes claim for £5m loss

22 January, 2010

The resolution of a claim from First Quench transport supplier Norbert Dentressangle could take months to sort out, according to administrator KPMG.

NDL has taken a warehouseman’s lien over stock in its two warehouses in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, that acted as First Quench distribution centres. This effectively means retaining stock to set against money owed to it.

The administrator’s report to creditors states NDL has made a £4.9 million claim, which, if confirmed, would make it the biggest single creditor after HM Revenue & Customs. At the date KPMG was appointed, around £14.5 million worth of stock was held at NDL sites.

Administrator Ian Corfield said the exact scope of NDL’s claim was still the subject of talks between KPMG and the transport firm. First Quench management appointed NDL to handle its distribution in early 2008 as part of a strategy aimed at stemming declining profits.

Meanwhile, more trade creditors have been granted access to stock after being able to prove ownership to pay off claims of debts owed by First Quench.

Some 120 trade creditors had made retention of title claims when KPMG published its report into First Quench affairs at the start of this month, but only 16 had been granted access to warehouse stock.

Corfield said the figure was changing all the time and that it was now “probably somewhere in the middle”.

He added that there was still a chance that the final dividend paid to creditors could top the 1.45p in the pound it had originally estimated, but that there was still likely to be a substantial shortfall on the total claimed.

Christie & Co, the agent appointed by KPMG to handle sales of individual stores from the First Quench estate, says it has received 3,000 offers and accepted 650.

The majority have come from individ­uals who are keen to continue operating as off-licences.

Head of retail Tony Evans said: “There is still a place for niche, well-stocked off-licences especially for customer-service driven operators who can provide a quality offer tailored to their local customer base.”

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