Relocating the Factory to Ireland – Have IDA Set a Trap?

We felt confident in our relationship with IDA and Gauselmann and entered into the project with a good deal of enthusiasm.

We purchased the manufacturing business and all the second hand tables from the Holt clubs. We also found some other second hand tables in England. We financed the takeover, partly by selling all of Holts second hand tables, and the other tables we had found, on the continent, partly by finishing and selling the current production run and partly by Gauselmann giving us an order equivalent to our estimated first years Irish manufacturing capacity. They also paid a substantial deposit on this order. Prices were set to achieve a 10% profit on turnover. It was also agreed that Gauselmann's company Stella would now become exclusive distributers for all Holt tables in Germany.

Gauselmann’s support was thus critical to the feasibility of the move to Ireland.

IDA Refine the Offer. WHY?

This was in essence a three way agreement involving undertakings from Ourselves, Gauselmann and IDA.
This website will explore the question of which parties would honour their commitments to the project and which would not.

Visit to Ireland

So on the Thursday 30th of April we visited Ireland and got the grand tour.

We were taken to see some awful woodwork in FAS and then on to KPMG and told that the best structure for our company was a branch of an Isle of Man company (later this turned out to be a very expensive structure and only of benefit if we died!)

1992-04-28<br><br />
            IDA Program for Visit

IDA Program for Visit

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Then down to Clonakilty to look at the factory. The factory had been empty for 6 years. I remarked that the roof looked dodgy. “We will fix any problems” they said. Later it turned out that it only leaked when it rained and could not be fixed without a new roof due to a construction fault.

All the while no mention of restricted leasehold or contingent liabilities. 1992-05-10-em-ida
1992-05-10 Where is the Contract?

Finishing out in Burnley

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This was a distressing time in a number of ways. Willie Holts was leaving Burnley after more than ninety years and many skilled craftsmen of a vulnerable age who we knew well were losing their employment.

We consoled ourselves that we had no choice as we had looked in vain for alternative affordable accommodation in Burnley and if the factory was not going to Ireland it would have been Belgium or Slovakia.

The liquidator was prepared to let us stay in the factory rent free in a caretaker capacity until it was sold and we were not to know that it would take nearly 3 years to sell the place. We were also not to know that the IDA offer we had in hand was not what it seemed.

In any case we now had our hands full. We had to finish the current production run in Burnley and ship them to Germany. We also had to dismantle all of the second hand tables and ship these to the continent. As we finished out we dismantled the factory and got everything ready to ship. A number of key employees would also relocate to Clonakilty to form a core of trained personnel to instruct local people in Clonakilty.

Arrival in Clonakilty – have we fallen in a well prepared IDA trap?

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We arrived in Ireland on the 12th of June 1992 with the factory on a fleet of trucks and loaded in sea containers. Two people from IDA whom I had never met before were in Clonakilty waiting for us.

For the first time we were informed that we could never buy the factory freehold but only on a restrictive leasehold.

They also informed us for the first time that we would have a contingent liability to IDA for the rent and other assistance and that should we later wish to leave Ireland we would have to repay it all.

As we were in Ireland at the factory unloading a fleet of containers when they told us all this we were not in a position to argue and as we were not planning on leaving anyway we worked on.

This was in our opinion a deliberate deception. IDA had ample opportunity to tell us all of this before we came to Ireland.

This all left a very bad taste.

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