How the Hinchliffe crash cost one man his firm

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The Independent Online
David Bredo supplied shirts, around 70,000 in all in a normal year, to Oakland Menswear, a chain that Stephen Hinchliffe snapped up from the owners of C&A in March last year. Aged 53, and after a heart bypass earlier this year, he was owed pounds 172,000 by Facia, too much for his small firm to bear. It went bust on 20 June, three weeks after Facia's collapse.

Mr Bredo set up Pastiche International in 1978. In a highly competitive market it made profits of less than pounds 10,000 a year and, in contrast to Mr Hinchliffe's opulent lifestyle, Mr Bredo paid himself just a living wage, around pounds 33,000 a year.

Nonetheless, after his heart surgery he had planned to take this year easier, before the Facia affair wiped his company out.

He says the hardest thing, however, was to explain to his own creditors, many of them his friends, how he could not afford the pounds 100,000 Pastiche still owed them.

"The worst was sitting in front of my own creditors' meeting, telling people I've done business with for years that I couldn't pay," he said at the Facia gathering last week.

"I could have carried on like him. But it would have been bloody immoral, because come two months down the line we still couldn't have paid and it would have been more."

Facia took 60 days' credit from Pastiche, unlike C&A which paid in 10. By last December, with the debt up at pounds 195,000, Mr Bredo had his worries, but was paid in January and February. That was just before the busy ordering time in the run-up to the summer.

It was also the last money he was to see. Facia's final cheque, written just days before the crash, bounced.

By then, unknown to Mr Bredo, Sears had already seen an overdue rent cheque bounce, and was preparing moves against Mr Hinchliffe.