A week ago exactly, the Princess of Wales made a big unannounced visit to the Chelsea Flower Show and posed for photos with the schoolchildren she had bused in. The photos made the covers of many of the British papers the next day, and you would have thought that she was the only royal at the Chelsea Flower Show’s MEDIA DAY. Except that King Charles and Queen Camilla were also at the show and their visit was totally overshadowed by Kate’s keenery. The rest of the week featured back-and-forth stories about Kate feuding with the king and queen, and stories about how Charles was not pleased whatsoever. We knew that Charles and Camilla would find some way to punish Kate. Well, this weekend’s papers were full of shady exclusives, and this Times piece was probably the worst one for Kate and her entire family. You know how the court had to step in and sell off the Middletons’ business because Party Pieces was on the verge of bankruptcy? Well, funny story – the Times has a wealth of information about just how broke the Middletons are and how they got a pandemic “loan” courtesy of the British taxpayers.
The Princess of Wales’s parents took out a coronavirus loan for a children’s party business that will leave the taxpayer facing a loss after the business collapsed this month. Carole and Michael Middleton received a taxpayer-backed loan from NatWest to support the company when lockdowns prevented family gatherings.
Party Pieces, which they established in 1987, has now entered an insolvency process. The bank is owed a balance of £220,000, according to documents seen by The Times. The taxpayer is liable to pay 80 per cent of any amount owed to NatWest under the terms of the government’s coronavirus business interruption loan scheme.
Party Pieces has now been sold through a so-called pre-pack administration deal to the entrepreneur James Sinclair for £180,000. The sale proceeds will therefore not be sufficient to pay off the loan in full. The lending is unsecured and will not be given priority over other unsecured creditors such as trade suppliers.
It is understood that Carole Middleton stepped back from the day-to-day running of Party Pieces in 2019. She became a brand ambassador for the business and a new management team was put in place. She remained a director and returned to help run the company’s operations this year to help secure its future. The pandemic led to a decline in sales for Party Pieces that ultimately prompted the owners to call in advisers from the restructuring firm Interpath. Revenues fell from £4.5 million to £3.2 million in 2022, and the company made a net loss before tax of £900,000.
In a report for creditors, the administrators said: “Management attributed this to the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in reduced social gatherings and a reduction in discretionary spend due to the cost-of-living crisis. This caused constraints on the company’s cash flows. The company was both loss-making and under creditor pressure. In the absence of new funding or a solvent sale, the company was insolvent on a balance sheet and cash flow basis. The existing investors of the company had injected ad hoc funds to meet critical payments and no further funds were available from this source.”
Sinclair’s company Teddy Tastic Bear bought Party Pieces after Interpath approached 175 possible buyers. Interpath received one potentially solvent offer for Party Pieces but found it could not be delivered “after significant effort”.
Party Pieces held discussions with creditors over its “tightening liquidity position” but found that there would be no support available to “defer or deal with the highest-pressure creditors”.
[From The Times]
There’s more background at the Times about the pandemic-era loans, which seem to be similar to the PPP loans we had here in America. The government handed out billions of dollars to businesses to keep them afloat during the pandemic. I’m honestly not surprised at all that PP got a loan, but it’s hilarious to me that Party Pieces still owes the bank £220,000. I am surprised by some of the other details – Party Pieces was sold for only £180,000? That’s literally what Kate spends on fugly coatdresses in a year. It sounds like Carole and Mike are up to their eyeballs in debt and selling off Party Pieces was just a failed attempt to stop their financial bleeding. I can’t wait for Buckingham Palace to reveal even more about Kate and the Middletons as punishment for the flower show thunder-stealing.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.
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