A long-established Derby bicycle company has gone bankrupt with the loss of more than a hundred jobs. Based in Sinfin, Moore Large was a major importer and wholesaler of bicycles, accessories, cycling wear and parts, selling to retailers including Go Outdoors, Amazon and Costco.
Determined efforts were made to save Moore Large from failure, but the company has been handed over to managers who say the shares will be sold and the vast majority of its 103 staff will lose their jobs. A total of 26 people have been temporarily detained to wind down the operation.
Director Adam Biggs said: “I am extremely shocked and it has been a very difficult time after all of us have worked so hard to save Moore Large. I really can’t thank all the staff enough for their loyalty and dedication.
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“Some of them had been with Moore Large for 20 or 30 years and on the day we announced the news, the response was overwhelmingly understanding and positive. There was no sign of anger.”
There had been concerted efforts to secure new investment, but a deal that fell through late last week was the last straw. It was decided to bring in administrators who chose to close the business and notify staff of the decision on the morning of Tuesday, March 14.
Mr Biggs, along with Dale Vanderplank, Adam Garner and Andrew Walker, was part of the management team that bought the Moore Large company in April 2022, based in a 20,000 square foot warehouse in Sinfin Lane. He says the timing of the sale proved to be a problem for the new owners who had taken on multi-million pound debt to buy Moore Large from the Moore family.
Mr Biggs said: “There was a big boom in bike sales during the Covid period. That high demand led to a big increase in supply. Then supply caught up and a lot of stock arrived in the first quarter of 2022 There was a year’s worth of bikes arriving in the UK at the same time, which meant there was a huge oversupply.
“That led to significant discounts at every level of between 30 and 50 percent. People were still buying bikes, but not at a rate fast enough to cover our costs.”
Moreover, since Moore Large is an import company, a depreciation of the pound proved to be a serious problem. It had expected to buy goods worth about $1.30 per pound. However, it dropped to around $1.10, sucking profits out of the company.
When interest rates rose in 2022, it increased debt that proved very difficult to manage. The directors realized they had problems and tried to secure new investments.
“We made it to November 2022 and it became clear that we couldn’t go any further, so we started the process of looking for investors and got very close to a private equity firm and we expected to close a deal around Christmas, but they retreated,” said Mr Biggs.
Moore Large was split into three sections, first selling parts and accessories such as locks, chains, helmets, lighting and clothing. The second part of the business served national accounts, mostly non-specialty bike retailers like Go Outdoors, Amazon and Costco.
These two parts of the market fell 40 to 50 percent across the board last year, causing significant cash flow problems for Moore Large.
The third part of the company was the independent bicycle division. Developed in-house at Moore Large, the Forme brand grew to £12m and was up 20% year on year, but this was not enough to subsidize Moore Large’s other divisions which were under-revenue.
“There was a second investor with whom we expected to close a deal last week. Legal proceedings were completed and then they said their circumstances had changed and the deal fell through.”
At that point, Moore Large’s directors ran out of options and the managers called in.
“On Tuesday we held a meeting to tell the staff that they were being laid off. For a company that has been in business for 50 years, that was very difficult,” said Biggs.
“Staff acknowledged that we had done everything we could to save the business and it was touching how many messages I got from them asking how I was doing. Moore Large was not a large company. disappointing.
“I would like to express our appreciation to the previous owner Nigel Moore. He could have tried to sell the company to several people, but he chose to put his trust in the management team that helped him build the company. I’m sorry so we couldn’t make it work.”
Administrators Raj Mittal and Nathan Jones of specialist business advisory firm FRP will handle the sale of Moore Large assets, including its stock of bicycles and accessories, as well as intellectual property such as the Forme brand.
FRP released a statement, which reads: “The company completed a management buyout in April 2022, but has since experienced significant supply chain disruption and reduced consumer demand, as well as inflation and exchange rate pressures on its margins.
“Over several weeks, an accelerated process was carried out to attract investment. However, without any viable offer, the directors proceeded to place the company in receivership.
The joint administrators have appointed agents John Pye & Sons Ltd to conduct an asset sale process, including the company’s stock of bicycles and accessories, through auction in the coming weeks.
Raj Mittal, co-director of Moore Large & Co. Limited, said: “Between inflation, currency fluctuations, subdued consumer demand and supply chain issues, Moore Large & Co. for significant and ongoing challenges. No doubt many other companies in the industry will feel similar pressures.
“Despite management’s efforts to save the company, critical investments could not be secured. Unfortunately, the financial condition of the company meant it could not continue to trade and we are now moving towards an asset sale. Our specialist staff team is on hand to support all affected employees in submitting claims to the Redundancy Scheme.”
Moore Large has its origins in 1947, when John Moore opened a bicycle and accessories shop in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. Moore Large was founded in 1974 when Mr. Moore started business with Puch bicycle distributor Cliff Large.
It distributed brands such as Oneal, Lake, Tern, WeThePeople, e*thirteen, Alpina, Kenda, Jagwire and many more, including its own brands Forme and Everything to Cycling.