Black Storm Brewery calls in administrators as HMRC talks break down, the North Shields-based brewery is now looking for a buyer, citing rising costs and the closure of trading partners as reasons for the decision
A well-known Tyneside craft brewery has gone into administration, citing tax problems and market turmoil as the reasons.
Paul Hughes, the owner of North Shields-based Black Storm Brewery, which was nominated Independent Brewery of the Year 2021/22, said the closure was a sad day in the company’s five-year history.
Prior to Covid, the brewery made a flurry of acquisitions and employed as many as 27 employees through a bottle shop in Manchester and bars in Newcastle, Whitley Bay, and Stockton before scaling back in 2019.
Administrators appointed at Black Storm Brewery
Administrators from Opus Restructuring LLP were appointed to Black Storm Brewery’s parent business, which employed 12 employees and had debts of more than £770,000, some of which included interest-free loans granted by directors, according to its most current statements to the end of April 2021. The company, which is set to leave debts of £1.2 million, made a number of acquisitions in the first few years after its launch, including Chester-le-Street’s Black Hill Brewery, gluten-free microbrewery Autumn Brewing, and Stockton bar Rios.
Mark Ranson, the administrator, stated: “This is a tragic ending for a well-known company that had a promising future before the pandemic. We can only hope that any initial interest from potential bidders would translate into an early sale of the business and assets, yielding the greatest possible result for the creditors and saving the jobs that have been jeopardised.”
Black Storm reopened at the Royal Quays shopping centre in an empty retail unit that housed its brewing equipment as well as a taproom. The venue was seen as an important aspect of the shopping center’s revitalization, but it is now shuttered, and the firm’s five employees have been laid off.
“Unfortunately, the journey has come to this point due to not being able to agree a course of action with our largest creditor HMRC, alongside the well documented issues within the brewing and hospitality industry, such as sky high utilities and raw material costs, and the closure of a vast number of our trading partners, which we were not immune to,” Mr Hughes wrote on Black Storm’s website.
“Our five-year journey has been thoroughly documented on social media: the highs, the awards, the charity donations, the grass roots team sponsorships, the festivals, and our tour.” And then there are the lows: Covid, venue closures, and crew reductions. Everything said above has contributed to the Black Storm tale being what it is.
“I have so many people to thank for being a part of this adventure, including my incredible team, our industry friends, and our ever-growing and passionate fan base.” For the time being, we close the doors, raise a glass to the story, and wait to see what happens in the next chapter of Black Storm.”
With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.