Organiser of Kerridge’s Pub in the Park festivals collapses

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Event host: Tom Kerridge at the Brighton Pub in the Park in July this year
Event host: Tom Kerridge at the Brighton Pub in the Park in July this year

Related tags Tom kerridge Pub in the Park Gastropub Food Finance

The events organiser behind celebrity chef Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park food and music festivals has collapsed, leaving HMRC £1.1m out of pocket.

Brand Events TM, which fell into administration in June 2023, owed a total of £3.3m that also included Southwark Council (£140k) and Warwick District Council (£14k) as two of its creditors.

Kerridge, who has headed up the popular event that puts on shows across the UK every summer since 2017, told The Morning Advertiser​ in a recent Big Interview​ running a two-Michelin starred gastropub (the only pub in the UK to do so) comes with “almost unbearable” pressure but added consistency in terms of hard work is keeping the Hand & Flowers site where it should be for a decade now.

The Times​ said Pub in the Park was one of five festival ideas launched by Brand Events TM, a joint venture between Chris Hughes and Trinity Mirror, the listed group now called Reach that owns the Mirror​ and Express​ newspaper titles.

It added Kerridge was entitled to 20% of Pub in the Park’s profits and owned 20% of its intellectual property.

However, Kerridge was not a shareholder in Brand Events TM.

Huge Covid losses

A statement from Brand Events TM read: “BETM (Brand Events TM) an event company owned by BEH, Reach and several private investors went into administration in June.

“It ran many events including Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair and The Al Fresco Theatre. It incurred huge Covid losses along with many events businesses.

“Tom Kerridge was not involved in the company’s shares or decision making.

“Due to huge Covid, losses the company went into administration in June 2023.

“Tom Kerridge worked with other investors and the administrator to save his popular festival business Pub in the Park. A new company bought the festival and ensured they successfully operated all summer.

“Attempts to link Tom to BETM debts and decisions are entirely unfair and inaccurate.

“Tom Kerridge deserves huge credit for defending the interests of all those involved in the Pub in the Park festival events.”

2023 go-ahead

The Times​ article stated Brand Events TM ran into difficulties during the pandemic after being forced to cancel events because of Covid restrictions. Reach asked for its £2m loan to be repaid and a sale of the business in late 2022 fell through.

The company then agreed with its lender Barclays to go ahead with the 2023 schedule before administrators from accountancy firm Azets were called in after HM Revenue & Customs threatened to wind the business up over an unpaid tax bill.

An emergency sales process was overseen by distressed financial adviser Hilco, which concluded that the best returns for creditors would be realised by selling the Pub in the Park assets to a new company owned by Kerridge and Hughes.

This would require Brand Events TM to be placed into administration while certain business assets – effectively the Pub in the Park​ operation – were simultaneously sold to the new company. Known as a pre-pack administration, the process allows for a more seamless transition while also absolving the new owners from paying the previous legal entity’s debts.

Brand Events TM called in administrators in June halfway through the Pub in the Park tour. Kerridge and Hughes paid suppliers owed about £1m to ensure the remaining 2023 schedule could be completed after acquiring the Pub in the Park business.

Fans were disappointed earlier this month when Pub in the Park announced that next year’s schedule had been reduced to just four locations: Marlow, Chiswick, Reigate and St Albans.

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