Kroll to quiz Green over collapse of Allders

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The Independent Online
ADMINISTRATORS TO Allders have written to Terry Green, the department store group's former chief executive, with a list of questions relating to the company's trading in the run-up to its recent administration.

Although Mr Green has had his contract terminated without compensation by Kroll, he faces questions over what happened to the retail business. Yesterday Mr Green confirmed that Kroll had issued a letter. He said: "The have written to me. I don't know whether they are investigating. There's a raft of questions waiting for me at my flat."

Under the terms of the administration, Kroll has to instigate an investigation into the directors of the company under Sections 3 and 4 of the Insolvent Companies Rules 1996 and the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. Such a move is required under UK company law whenever a company goes into administration.

Kroll said it wanted to be in a position to decide on the company's fate by tomorrow. It wants to be in a position to adopt a strategy of either breaking the business up and selling stores piecemeal or keeping it together and selling it as a going concern. It added that uncertainty over the store group's future was affecting its ability to continue as a going concern and therefore a decision on its fate had to be taken soon.

The post mortem over what went wrong is expected to become increasingly bitter. One Allders employee who contacted The Independent, but who did not want to be named, blamed Mr Green and the company's commercial director, Phil Cox, for its woes. He said: "If Mr Green was so concerned about our future and that of our pensioners, why did he spend so much time relaxing at his holiday home in Palma in the days leading up to the administration order coming into effect?"

Asked why he thought Allders collapsed into administration, Mr Green said he could not comment publicly about the situation. However, some people who worked for the company are pointing the finger of blame at its lenders, which originally included Lehman Brothers, the investment bank, and Barclays, as well as its largest shareholder, Minerva.

They are blamed for failing to support the company and for pulling the plug too early. The critics argue that Allders was beginning to show signs of turning its trading performance around and stemming its losses.

However, it is understood the three backers did provide extra working capital to help the business through the Christmas trading period. Lehman Brothers sold its original pounds 90m debt position two weeks ago to the restructuring specialist Hilco, for a consideration of pounds 30m, before the administration took effect.

Kroll is now assimilating the 60 or so expressions of interest it has received from potential buyers of Allders' assets.