Major supermarkets were owed almost £2.7m by the ailing turkey giant Bernard Matthews ahead of the pre-pack administration deal that led to its sale to Ranjit Singh Boparan last month.
Tesco was owed £1.1m and was the largest of the supplier’s 900 unsecured creditors, according to a creditor’s report published by administrator Deloitte this week, with its reported debt of £24m expected to rise to £39m.
Asda was owed more than £469,000 and Morrisons over £395,000. Other creditors included M&S (£328k), Iceland (£247k), Sainsbury’s (£98k) and Aldi (£26k), while distributor Fowler Welch was owed more than £500,000, and the British Poultry Council £139,000.
Despite positive noises made by CEO Rob Burnett about a turnaround during the past year, Deloitte said the group made a loss of £27m for the year to 30 June, caused largely by the declining commodity price for dark turkey meat, which led to cashflow problems that were “compounded by reductions in credit insurance limits”.
While £46.6m of the £87.5m sale price would be used to pay off secured creditors Wells Fargo Capital Finance and PNC Financial Services, and former owners Rutland Partners had already received £34m, the report suggested unsecured lenders would likely receive no more than 1p in the pound.
“I would expect larger creditors like the major supermarkets will be able to offset these losses in ongoing discussions with the new owners of Bernard Matthews. There are no specific rules against this practice,” said a senior restructuring consultant. “But smaller creditors are unlikely to see anything back.”