plant based vegan burger

Plant & Bean manufactured meat-free products for the likes of Quorn, Princes and Wicked Kitchen

Failed meat alternatives manufacturer Plant & Bean ran up losses of at least £7m in just two years of trading and owed creditors more than £6m when it collapsed earlier this year, new documents have revealed.

The report by administrators at Interpath also showed Heather Mills paid £2.9m to buy the company’s plant-based factory in Lincolnshire earlier this month.

As a result of the deal, Plant & Bean lender HSBC will be paid the £1.7m it is owed, while HMRC will also get back the full amount of £500k.

Unsecured creditors, which are mostly made up of the two main shareholders in the group, will have to wait to see if they will be paid any of the £3.7m outstanding, according to the Interpath report.

Plant & Bean appointed administrators on 31 May after being hit by a wave of cost inflation, primarily surging ingredients and energy prices, and also operational issues stemming from “a lack of investment” in the Boston factory.

The business was formed in June 2019 following a spin-out of the meat-free division of North Yorkshire-based manufacturer Brecks Food in a joint venture with Thai investor at listed group NR Instant Produce.

Plant & Bean, which employed 32 staff, suffered losses of £5.3m in the two years to the end of June 2021. Despite an attempted turnaround, the business made further losses of £1.7m in the period to September 2021.

HSBC pulled its invoice finance facility in late 2021 after being unhappy with the directors attempt to fix the underperformance in trading, Interpath said.

The bank instructed the advisory firm to draw up contingency plans in case the business failed to improve.

However, the Thai shareholder injected “significant sums” via unsecured loans to support the turnaround plans and ongoing trade, Interpath added in the report.

In April 2023, the Thai backer transferred loans of £1.5m to an unconnected third party and by May had decided to pull its financial support, which meant insolvency was unavoidable.

The administration report showed the Thai shareholders were owed £1.5m and Brecks almost £1m, with both classified as unsecured creditors.

Interpath noted Plant & Bean generated revenues of £4.4m in the year to 31 May 2023, but it didn’t spell out how much in further losses had been racked up by the group.

The report revealed that alongside the factory deal to Mills, Brecks picked up the IP and stock for £230k.

Plant & Bean also owned a 49% stake in an almost-complete food manufacturing facility north of Bangkok that was to supply plant-based meat for South-East Asian market. The Thai shareholders have agreed to pay £10k for the 49% stake.