The 90 jobs in Flancare Longford are safe for now after a significant investment in a newly-formed company which has acquired the trade and certain assets of Flancare Distribution Limited.
Total Produce, one of Europe’s largest fresh produce providers, announced last Friday it had become a 50 per cent shareholder in a new company, which takes over Flancare’s business from the provisional liquidator, Mr Declan McDonald of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In a statement, Total Produce said they expected “this transaction will secure employment for 200 people as well as ensuring the continued provision of high levels of service to customers.”
As reported in the Leader last week, one of the previous owners of Flancare Distribution Limited, Ellen Woodlock, will maintain a significant shareholding in the new company, in a move that has angered hauliers who have been left out of pocket by the liquidation and sale.
Charlie Johnson, who regularly does contract work from both Flancare’s Longford and Clonmel bases, described the liquidation as “the biggest disgrace I have ever seen.”
“I’ve been with them for 16 years now and I’m astounded at what’s going on. I’m owed 30 to 40 thousand (euro) from them, and at present I’m hoping to just get what they owe me for March.
“They even hired us the day they were going to Dublin to meet the liquidator knowing full well they have been insolvent for months. When you look at some of the shareholders in the new company, who are able to start up the same business debt-free while we’re left out of pocket, isn’t exactly very fair, now is it?”
A spokesperson insisted senior management had reached an agreement with the majority of contractors during the process of winding down the company. However, many creditors are expected to be left out of pocket by the move. Last year, Flancare made a loss of €636,000 and also owes Revenue €343,000.
The liquidation process of the old company will continue as normal, but as a court-appointed process the provisional liquidator, Mr Declan McDonald could not confirm a date for the process to be finished by. Mr McDonald also confirmed the revenue bill is likely to be the priority when dealing with creditors.
Flancare has operated as normal since the company went into liquidation two weeks ago and it’s hoped that this investment will bring security to the 90 staff in Longford, the 130 in Clonmel and the further four in Dublin.
The new company remains operating from the substantial purpose-built premises built by Flancare on the Strokestown Road using the existing fleet of vehicles and computer and handling systems.
A spokesperson for the new company said management will possibly look at changing the name in due course, but there is no obligation to do so.