Belfast Telegraph

Brewbot boss vows to persevere after entering an agreement with creditors

By John Mulgrew

The boss of Belfast beer-making technology firm Brewbot says while it is facing a "difficult challenge" the firm will continue to develop and sell its product, after it entered into an agreement to pay back its creditors.

Brewbot agreed a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), following an attempt by the taxman, in the form of a court petition, to wind-up the business. The petition has now been dismissed.

The company is a technology firm that produces wood and stainless steel 'smart' beer-making machines.

The business has debts of almost £300,000, spread across 19 creditors, according to new documents filed to Companies House.

Its founder and chief executive, Chris McClelland, told the Belfast Telegraph: "Above all we are dedicated to delivering a good result for everyone.

"The focus is on the product. In particular, the underlying technology which is considered of significant value to brewers by enabling them to distribute their beer digitally.

"There is no doubt that this is a difficult challenge, and we are thankful for the resounding support we've had from our creditors and investors to move forward."

Brewbot formerly operated a bar, which was also where its head office was based, on the Ormeau Road in the south of the city, up until around a week ago.

The premises has now been taken over by the Galway Bay Brewery, which opened its new bar, Northern Lights, on Tuesday.

Details now show the company owes almost £200,000 to Techstart NI SME, which is a part-taxpayer funded equity scheme launched by Invest NI.

Brewbot was also offered £88,257 of support from Invest NI, of which £38,541 has been 'drawn down', or used.

Other debts include almost £20,000 to Dublin PR firm Beachhut PR, more than £43,000 to its former landlord, North Down Leisure, as well as thousands to a number of drinks distributors.

Paul Hayes, chief executive of Beachhut PR, said: "Beachhut works with both large tech giants and start-ups.

"We have seen our fair share of stalled projects... over the years.

"I think the team at Brewbot gave it a good shot, but hardware is harder than just software alone."

A Belfast court heard last week that Brewbot had entered into the CVA and the move to wind up the company had been dismissed. A CVA is an agreement with creditors that allows a company to pay back money owed over a period of time.

It also allows a business to continue trading.

In a Companies House document relating to the CVA, it says the chairman "declared that the proposal had been agreed by the requisite majority of the creditors".

James B Kennedy has been appointed supervisor of the arrangement.

Of those who were present at the meeting, or were represented by a proxy, 96% of creditors backed the agreement

Before moving to the voluntary creditor arrangement, Brewbot had struggled over the last 12 months.

It previously employed many more staff, including developers working on producing the Brewbot system itself, as well as those running the bar.

Brewbot began its foray into the technology industry with a crowd-funding drive.

It raised more than £114,000 in just one month through Kickstarter.

The company secured £1m from a range of investors as part of a round of seed funding.

Just a small number of Brewbots have been produced, with several having been made above the Ormeau Road bar.

Meanwhile, around 300 jobs have been lost at the UK arm of computer reseller Misco after the operation plunged into administration.

The Northamptonshire-based firm has appointed joint administrators FRP Advisory after coming under pressure from Amazon's incursion into the business-to-business market and ramped-up terms from its credit insurers.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.