Shocking extent of venue’s collapse

THE full scale of the financial collapse of one of Suffolk’s top wedding venues can be revealed today.

Kersey Mill Ltd went into administration last month with a shortfall of more than �600,000.

Dozens of couples were let down by the company’s demise and were left thousands of pounds out of pocket while it has emerged that a string of bills had not been paid for months and staff had gone without wages. Each creditor has been provided with documents that reveal the extent of the shortfall at the Grade II listed mill, run by former directors Rodney Kerr and Christina Royce Mellor.

The paperwork paints a grim financial picture – after working out the available assets it seems the business had a �610,451 shortfall, including more than �143,000 owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

At a meeting last week a creditors’ committee was set up to pursue claims and keep people informed.

Many have all but given up hope of receiving anything from the administration process, which is being overseen by Colchester-based Chantrey Vellacott. The largest sum owed is to Mrs Royce Mellor, the former director, who had made loans of more than �206,000 to the business to “make improvements to the trading premises.”

Suppliers across Suffolk and Essex have been left �79,203 short while the value of the bookings that will go unfulfilled is �126,793. The estimated total of “assets available for preferential creditors” is just �6,660, most of which will go to staff to cover unpaid wages and holiday pay.

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In a letter to all creditors, joint liquidator Lee De’ath said: “Based on present information, it is not anticipated that there will be sufficient funds available to enable a distribution to any class of creditor.

“The joint liquidators will keep creditors informed of dividend prospects in future reports.”

In an accompanying report looking at the history of the business, which was incorporated in September 2008, it is explained that due to debts incurred over the first year of trading, the company entered a Company Voluntary Arrangement in November 2010.

But a lender began to request repayment of “significant sums of money” borrowed by trustees representing Mrs Mellor’s interest against the property.

The trustees were “unable or unwilling” to repay or refinance the debt so the lender foreclosed and took possession of the house and mill in March.

The company believed it had secure tenure under the terms of its lease but decided it did not have the financial resources to contest the lender’s move to take possession and, apparently, the “reluctant decision” to cease trading was made to avoid further loss to those who had made or were looking to make bookings.

The EADT contacted Ms Mellor and Mr Kerr last night but they declined to comment.