What’s in a name?

So, some of Marco Pierre White’s pubs have gone into administration – It is significant that this article was filed under celebrity news; lets face it if 5 pubs local to you entered administration it would only just hit the local news – never the Telegraph.

However to me the relevant part of the article was this. “The bills have not been paid for ages, there are a lot of local suppliers who have been let down.”

Why? What action had those suppliers taken to get paid? Why did they offer credit in the first place?

Firstly, let me stress that I have had no dealings with MPW or his restaurant groups nor (knowingly) with any of his suppliers.

I do however have a lot of experience of small suppliers dealing with large customers without putting controls in place simply because of their name.

The name in question might be the individual or the brand itself.

 

Peoples Names: In this specific case it is safe to assume that the majority of their suppliers dived into providing credit because the ‘customer’ was MPW – He’s famous and rich so always a safe bet. It wasn’t of course, the customer was actually Horatio Inns Ltd, of which MPW is director and shareholder (and which in their latest accounts recorded a loss of nearly £500K and a net worth of minus £4.8 million). That is a matter of public record and information which is freely available.

Similarly, if you are dealing with a contractor who works for GiantCorp Plc, or a Government body you are dealing with the contractor, the end client offers you no protection.

 

Big Brands: The other manifestation which I see very often is people desperate to ‘crack’ big named outlets for their product – in particular national retailers. Get your product on the shelves of a big retailer & you are made for life!

Assuming you get the chance to pitch to your retailer of choice, almost without exception these things will happen:

– They will squeeze you on price very hard indeed.

– Forget your quantities & timings, you will be supplying their quantities, to their destinations when they want you to.

– You will be presented with a detailed contract with I strongly suggest you read, and get read by a specialist in the field, because that contract will tell you about things like damages, SOR, marketing contributions and many other things which really do matter.

 

From many years experience in financing I can say without hesitation that whilst there are genuinely bad people out there, they are a tiny minority.

There is nothing wrong with MPW, or with High Street retailers or indeed with sub contractors – but there is no inherent guarantee with them either.

 

What matters – every single time – is the financial profile of the customer and the terms of the transaction – never the name alone!