Monday, 24 December 2012

Andrew Roy goes bust

Time to return to Alloa. I've been away far too long.

You probably haven't heard of Andrew Roy and Son before. That's because the brewery is much better-known under another name: Archibald Arrol. Or the Alloa Brewery. Later the Scottish plant of Allied Breweries and the penultimate of Alloa's 19th-century breweries to close.

The brewery was in the hands of the Roy family for more than 50 years, first Andrew Roy, then later his son Robert Roy. The son doesn't seem to have made as good a fist of it as his dad. Hence this bankruptcy hearing. The business does appear to have been viable, as its long survival after Robert Roy's departure attests. The reason for it financial difficulties tells us much about the perils of being a Scottish brewery with a minimal home trade.

At this Court yesterday Andrew Roy & Son, brewers, appeared for examination in bankruptcy before Sheriff Clark. The sederunt comprised Mr James Moir, banker, trustee; Mr McWatt, writer, agent in the sequestration; Mr James Younger, brewer; Mr Thomson, wood merchant; and Mr H. Baird, maltster, Glasgow, creditors.

Robert Macfarlane Roy, sole partner of the firm, examined by Mr McWatt, deponed - I am sole partner of the firm of Andrew Roy & Son. Previous to my joining the firm in 184S the business had been carried on since 1810 by my father, Mr Andrew Roy, in his own name. My father died in 1853, about seven years after I became his partner. The Alloa and Hutton Park Brewery works belonged to him, and were conveyed to his trustees by his deed of settlement. His trustees had an interest in the business from the time of his death till 1860. Their interest then ceased, and they had no longer any connection with the business. The whole works were acquired by me under an arrangement with my father's trustees. I was obliged to suspend payments in May last; and a private meeting of my creditors was held at Edinburgh on 2d June last, at which I made an offer of composition of 15s. per £1 on the debts due by the firm, payable by three instalments at three, six, and nine months. That offer was accepted by the creditors, and the first instalment fell due on 17th December last. I was unable to meet the first instalment. The reason why I could not meet that instalment was principally because I was disappointed of funds which I expected to receive from the business carried on by the firm in London under the management of Mr Andrew Roy. In June, when the private meeting of my creditors was held, there was due by the London agency £5055, arising from outstanding debts, a large portion of which I counted on getting previous to December. A considerable portion of that sum was collected by Mr Andrew Roy, but only a small portion of it reached me. Mr Andrew Roy, in December last, sent me a statement of his intromissions, from which it appeared that a large proportion of the money collected had been applied in paying salaries and expenses. The sum forwarded to me would not exceed £150. From reports sent to me by a London solicitor, there are now but about £400 of good debts. The business in London was carried on in Upper Thames Street, where the ale was sent to Mr Andrew Roy to be sold. The account transmitted to me by Mr Andrew Roy, to which I have referred, is amongst the papers which have been given up by me to the trustee. Full sets of books have been kept at the brewery since I became a partner, and previously. I also kept a private ledger showing the statements of profit and loss in the business, and also showing my private expenditure. A balance was regularly made each year on the 31st July. The books were regularly kept by clerks under my superintendence. They contain full and regular accounts of the whole transactions of the firm, and are capable of being brought to a proper balance. I have prepared and lodged with the trustee a full statement showing the firm's liabilities and assets. This was produced at the first meeting of creditors under the sequestration and considered. It gives (Ist) a list of debts due by the firm; (2d) list of assets; (3d) abstract state of the affairs of the firm; (4th) list of outstanding debt due to the firm; (5th) bills receivable; (6th) account of casks; (7th) statement of ale, malt, and hops on hand and (8th) statement of losses sustained by the firm. I have also produced states applicable to my own private affairs, consisting of (Ist) statement of heritable property and moveable effects belonging to me; and (2d) list of private debts owing to me; also a record of the heritable properties as required by the Act. These states are all correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I am willing to give any other explanation as to these states if required by the trustee. The whole books and papers have been delivered to him. The abstract state of the firm's affairs show that the liabilities are £19,803 odds, and the assets, after the deduction of preferential claims, £8927 - thus showing a deficiency of £10,876. I account for this deficiency by bad debts sustained within the past three years. The chief loss has been in London under the successive agencies of Mr Alexr. Ford, Mr Patrick Robertson, and Mr Andrew Roy. The loss under Mr Ford's agency £2200, under Mr Robertson's £2620, and under Mr Andrew Roy's £4197 - amounting in all to £9017. Other losses were made in 1863-4 by John Orr, John Angus, and others in Glasgow, amounting to £1538, and losses under small accounts in different parts of the country, amounting to £1076 - making the total losses £11,631. Full details are given in my ledger. The different heritable properties mentioned in the state belong to me individually. They consist of the Alloa Brewery, Hutton Park Works, Hutton Park House, and Whins Road House. These have been valued by Mr Paterson, city valuator, Edinburgh, and Mr John Melvin, Alloa. The brewery and utensils are valued at £5802, Hutton Park Works, £2696; Hutton Park House, £1600; and Whins Road House, £450 - total, £10,548. The mortgages, amounting to £7345, 1s. 3d., leave an apparent reversion of £3202, 18s. 9d. My private expenditure might be £460 to £500 per annum. The whole states lodged by me with the trustee have since been submitted to a chartered accountant, appointed by the trustee, who has examined and compared them with the books.

Mr JAS. Moir, the trustee, stated that he had carefully examined the books, and had submitted them to an Edinburgh accountant. He had not yet received his report, but he had received word so far as to show that a full and fair statement had been submitted. He did not, therefore, consider it necessary to put any additional questions to the bankrupt. The statutory oath was then administered."
Caledonian Mercury - Friday 20 January 1865, page 2.
The losses seem to have mostly been incurred by the London agency. The size of the losses there is revealed by the valuations of the brewery's property. £9,017 was lost in London. Almost twice the value of the brewery itself, £5,802. How had they managed to lose so much money? Fraud is my guess.

The London agency owed the brewery £5,055, but all except £400 of this was eaten up by expenses and wages. That seems a ludicrously large amount, more than £4,500. Someone must have had their hands in the till.

Scottish brewers, who did the bulk of their trade far away from their brewery, were particularly dependent on agents to sell their beer in England. The newspapers are full of court cases brought by brewers against agents and advertisements seeking agents. This was in sharp contrast to London brewers, most of whose custom was on their doorstep and could be supplied directly from the brewery.

The bankruptcy hearing didn't mean the immediate end of Andrew Roy and Son, as they were able to placate their creditors:

Andrew Roy and Son's Sequestration.- At a statutory meeting of the creditors of Andrew Roy and Son, brewers, held yesterday, the bankrupts' offer of composition was accepted. The Alloa and Hutton Park Brewery works will, therefore, continue to be carried on by the old firm."
Dunfermline Saturday Press - Saturday 28 January 1865, page 3.

It was just a stay of execution. Archibald Arrol bought the brewery in 1866.

No comments: