The Calm Before The Storm: Landwood Predicts A Surge In Liquidations


North West property specialists Landwood Group are calling for businesses to be prepared for the end of government support schemes - as it predicts a surge in firms going to the wall.

Administrations and liquidations have hit an historic low over recent months as initiatives including furlough prop up businesses that otherwise might have failed.

Over the past year, much of the recovery work Landwood has undertaken has been for businesses - SMEs and large firms - which have collapsed under financial pressures, many related to the pandemic.

And as business support schemes come to a close, Landwood expects an influx of casualties similar to Merseyside-based Total Glass Ltd, which fell into administration last October and saw 167 employees made redundant. 

Instructed to dispose of its assets by administrators from Grant Thornton, Landwood raised over £800,000 for the administration and various lenders to the business through an online auction of nearly 1,000 lots.

These included manufacturing equipment for uPVC and Aluminium window and door production - such as pneumatic drills, sanders and extendable worktables - IT systems, portable office cabins, forklift trucks, Mercedes vans, and office equipment.

Mark Bailey, Landwood Group’s Managing Director, said:

“We are currently in a period of calm before an inevitable storm and we expect the coming months will see many more business failures like Total Glass. 

“While we are currently experiencing one of the lowest numbers of liquidations and administrations in recent history, this will not last. 

“When business support schemes, such as furlough come to an end, we expect an influx of liquidations and administrations, as a number of businesses will have become unviable or failed to adapt to changes brought about by the pandemic.

“It is paramount that businesses get their house in order at this time and recoup some of their losses through disposing of assets or property effectively.”

Nearly 500 registered bidders competed for Total Glass lots and the group achieved higher returns for the assets than expected. 

Mark said:

“We saw an unprecedented number of people attend the Total Glass viewing, with bids being placed from across the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe and India. 

“For Total Glass, and a number of other businesses whose assets we’ve helped dispose of, we’re achieving significantly higher returns than anticipated.”

This past year has been a period of growth for Landwood, with the firm relocating to larger Liverpool city centre offices after doubling its headcount.

Its Project and Building Consultancy Division, established in September, got off to a strong start as it was instructed on a national portfolio of 62 commercial properties in December and a further 34 properties in April.

Landwood has seen more businesses - as well as local authorities - using its online auctions to dispose of assets and commercial property. 

Mark added:

“While property auctions were slowly moving into the online space pre-pandemic, lockdowns have really accelerated this shift.

“Businesses are now much more comfortable selling assets online than they were in 2019 and the same goes for those making large purchases. 

“Many have now experienced the benefits of online actions. They’re easier, safer and more flexible and the bidder can place a bid where and when they choose, as there’s no auctioneer who decides when they can join.

“Unlike many auction houses, we have never staged a traditional auction and we never will so we consider ourselves to be experts in our field.”

Most recently, Landwood has launched a Workplace Solutions Consultancy in response to the rapidly changing role of offices in professional life, providing occupiers and commercial landlords with advice on landlord and tenant matters, workplace design and project management of associated fit out work.

Mark added:

“The pandemic has accelerated the changing face of the British high street as it moves a primarily digital sphere. 

“This, combined with the rise in home or flexible working, means city centres are likely to emerge as fundamentally changed after lockdown and when business support measures lift for good.”

Landwood Group, founded in 2008, has an experienced team of chartered surveyors, project managers, asset managers and auctioneers. 

By closely monitoring trends in its areas of expertise, Landwood is clear that the unprecedented circumstances of the past year - and its resulting long-term impact - means leaders must future-proof their businesses and adapt to ensure post-pandemic survival.