Why Halloween is four days earlier this year (and how to avoid those insolvency nightmares)

October 13th, 2017
13 October

I’m publishing this blog on Friday the 13th… but Friday, October 27th at 9.30am is when nightmare figures rise up to greet us and spectres stalk the land, instilling fear and trembling.

Hang on Martin, I can hear you say, Halloween is actually on Tuesday, October 31st and all the ghouls and skeletons start drifting around the streets at midnight, not 9.30am.

Ah yes, that’s true. But that first date is the one that accountants, business people and politicians will be keeping an eye on – because that is the date that the Insolvency Service will be releasing UK insolvency statistics for the quarter from July to September 2017.

It is hard to say whether or not we will see a negative or a positive trend to these figures. On the one hand, the UK economy is proving surprisingly resilient compared to many of our European neighbours – on the other, Sterling’s weakness against the Euro has been causing a headache for those businesses who rely on imports. We will see.

Meanwhile, unusual signs in the sky have marked the biggest insolvency story of the year. No, not witches on broomsticks but rather third-party passenger jets flying home the 110,000 stranded Monarch customers after the UK’s fifth largest airline slipped into insolvency.

Monarch Chief Executive Officer Andrew Swaffield and his team tried everything to hold the company up including trying to sell its short-haul business but eventually dollar-denominated fuel costs and increased competition in its core markets saw the company run out of resources…less than 10 months after receiving a cash injection of $220 million.

So a scary time for its 3,000 employees and for those passengers who were, initially, stranded in far-off lands.

Which brings me back to Trick or Treat. Whatever those figures tell us on October 27th, every statistic hides a story of troubled directors looking for help, creditors wondering what they can salvage and employees fearing for the future. There is no trick to helping these people – just calm, considered actions and honest opinions which, over many years, have proved to be the best way of moving everyone forward. And, despite the anguish which often accompanies insolvencies, practitioners should always treat everyone involved on both sides of the process with dignity, respect and compassion.

Monarch’s demise actually came too late to feature in the third quarter insolvency figures. Just 250 employees are currently left, helping with the repatriation of customers and the winding up of the company.

And please, no jokes about skeleton staff…