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Credit and competition to blame for Misco UK demise

Misco UK has entered administration after turnaround efforts at the business failed to deliver against a background of tough market conditions

Attempts to breathe new life into Misco UK have failed with the firm going into administration with most of the firm's staff being made redundant.

Over the past seven months the firm had been attempting to turnaround its fortunes under the leadership of a management team headed up by CEO Alan Cantwell and with the backing of restructuring specialist Hilco Capital.

During that period the firm closed its sales office in Watford making bidding farewell to some staff but had also invested in a NetSuite ERP system to try and gain sales efficiences across the organisation.

The last time Cantwell spoke to MicroScope a couple of weeks ago he talked of the pain and the challenges that had been a feature of the first six months but was more optimistic about the future.

That optimism has ended with  the loss of around 330 jobs, with 30 of the original workforce being retained to help man the Wellingborough headquarters and the Greenock warehouse, and the end of trading for the Misco operation in the UK.

Geoff Rowley, Tom MacLennan and John Lowe, partners at FRP Advisory, the business advisory firm, have been appointed as joint administrators to Misco UK this morning.

In a statement the administrators said that despite the best efforts to turn the company around a tightening of credit insurance and competition from other online players had been too much.

“Misco UK had made great progress since the change of ownership and new investment in March this year but the company’s turnaround plans could not deal sufficiently with the rapidly deterioration in cash-flow after the sudden tightening of credit insurance terms," said Rowley.

"The UK business had moved to a system of supply chain outsourcing of stock, with increasing levels of automation to enable greater efficiencies with suppliers and distributions and overall lower cost, however these efforts came at a time of heightened competition from other globalised online retailers which have eaten heavily into the margins of even established IT resellers like Misco," he added.

"Our immediate priority as administrators is to work closely with all agencies and services to ensure employees receive every support and assistance at this time. We shall be assisting those staff who have lost their jobs with their timely applications to the Redundancy Payments Service," Rowley concluded.

There had been sales talks under way over the last few days to sell off Misco and although came to a point where no deal had been made there is a possibility that the business could find new ownership and the administrators will be attempting to follow that course of action if possible.

Misco Europe, which has operations in Italy, Spain Netherlands and Sweden, continues to trade.

The timeline

March - Systemax sells off the bulk of its European operations, including its Misco operation, to business rescue specialist Hilco Capital

April - Business gets £15m in extra finances from Bank Leumi. New leadership team talk of Misco charting a fresh course with solutions and services the areas where it will be looking for growth

October -  Misco CEO Alan Cantwell talks of pain of the first few months but argues the firm has a place in the market and can compete against etailer competition

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