Family business behind The Hadleigh Ram and Long Melford Swan calls in administrators

The Hadleigh Ram has announced its closure.

The Hadleigh Ram has announced its closure. - Credit: Archant

A holding company running three popular pub-restaurants in Suffolk which became embroiled in a dispute with the tax man has collapsed – but the family responsible are adamant it is business as usual.

Liquidators involved in winding up Stuart Inns Ltd, which operated the Long Melford Swan, The Hadleigh Ram, Lavenham Greyhound, Duck Deli at Long Melford and previously, The Old Crown at Girton in Cambridgeshire, said the cost of the legal proceedings with HMRC, rises in the living wage, prices and business rates, as well as pension contributions, had all taken their toll.

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The business, launched in 2011, was run by siblings Oliver Macmillan, Lorna Pissarro and Iain Macmillan, along with their father Andrew Macmillan. But it was unable to continue after hitting financial problems and it was decided the business, based at Shotgate, near Wickford in Essex, should be wound up voluntarily following a general meeting. Darren Wilson of DKF Insolvency Limited was appointed liquidator of Stuart Inns Ltd on February 12. A statement from DKF said: “The company had been previously involved in a dispute with HMRC which had resulted in legal proceedings being instigated which the company had been defending. “Unfortunately, the costs of defending these proceedings and increases to the living wage, pension contributions, increases in business rates, price increases due to imports with a weak pound and other increased costs, the business was unable to continue. “Out of the four sites the company previously operated, one in Girton, Cambridgeshire, had already closed prior to the liquidators’ appointment. However, the remaining three sites have been sold and a number of jobs saved.” Andrew Macmillan said: “The businesses very much continue as normal. It is the holding company only that has been affected.” Bury St Edmunds-based pubs and brewing group Greene King, which owns the pub buildings but leases them out to others to manage, is currently recruiting for a new partner at the Old Crown in Girton after Stuart Inns ended its lease there last November. Siblings Iain Macmillan and Lorna Pissarro announced in January of this year that the family had restructured the business and that they together were running the Lavenham Greyhound, Hadleigh Ram and Long Melford Swan and had appointed a new group general manager, James Sanders. A Greene King spokesman said: “We are aware of the current financial situation with the operator of The Long Melford Swan, Hadleigh Ram and Lavenham Greyhound. While Greene King owns these buildings they are run independently of us and we would like to reassure residents and customers that we are working to protect the long-term future of these pubs.”