Editor's Blog

The £64,000 question: when is a rebrand not a rebrand?

There’s no two ways about it – we have been misled, either intentionally or otherwise. We were sent a press release claiming that Christopher Ayre's company, Leeds-based iCO Events Services, was being rebranded as AYRE – The Live Comms Company (pictured). We accepted his words at face value and we printed the story. Only six weeks later, Ayre put iCO Events Services into voluntary liquidation with debts of £64,000.

We had no idea this was happening until an angry creditor pointed it out and we then followed the trail of information via Companies House. This week we uncovered the liquidator’s report and the statement of affairs which included the details of all creditors left unpaid including Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for nearly £30,000.

Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, because companies go broke every day for a variety of reasons. And nothing illegal about the shareholders setting up a new business straight away, so long as they go about it in the right way. However, when shareholders misrepresent the event (either intentionally or otherwise) as it happened here, it leaves a nasty taste. And when somebody uses our news outlets to misrepresent the facts, that nasty taste makes us spit.

The problem is that the way companies report failures means media can be misled very easily because there is a huge potential time lag in the process. It can take a long time for a liquidator to file a report and months to publish details of creditors. In that interim period, shareholders can say what they like and hope that by the time the truth comes out, everybody will have forgotten. But we haven’t.

And while the taxman might seem fair game to some, the reality is that unpaid tax is costing us (you and me). We will have to pay that debt through taxation somehow and sometime in the future. So you and I should be offended every time this happens and doubly offended when such an event is portrayed as something it isn’t.

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