[Uploaded to BikeBiz.co.uk on 3rd October]
Simon Goddard, Derbys group financial controller in the UK, refused to grant me an interview (he didnt even say No, sorry, Im rushing for a train or some other logical reason, he just said No). However, Barry Robinson was far more open.
As he was leaving Smith & Williamsons Birmingham office after the Sturmey Archer creditors meeting I asked whether hed answer a few of my questions. Yes, he said, so long as I didnt mind walking the ten minutes to the railway station with him.
Robinson has figured large in my life in the past two weeks so, no, I said I didnt mind walking with him.
He continued on his crusade to apportion blame on Colin Bateman and Paul Smith, Sturmeys MD and FD respectively.
Its all been a breakdown in commnication really. At the [board] meeting on, I think it was the 11th, differing balance sheets were presented. They were wrong...
And Bateman and Smith didnt have to sign personal indemnities. They refused to sign the [Barclays loan] contract even when the indemnities had been removed.
When asked about Lenarks easily traceable poor credit rating, Robinson said:
Look, youve got to understand, Lenark is just a holding company, thats all. It buys and sells companies. We turn companies around.
So what companies had Lenark taken from an unprofitable state and made into a profitable one?
Vaast. Vee, double a, s, t. We turned that one around when it was in trouble before.
[This checks out. Ed.]
Im in Nottingham tomorrow at Sturmey Archer. I want to speak to the people there and get them to continue working. Theres no alterior motives in all this.
Why were management fees charged to a company in neutral cash flow?
Management fees have to be paid. Would the directors not have taken their salaries? Eugene and Mary [Lenark execs appointed as Sturmey board members] had to be paid.
He said he was saddened that attempts were made to block his move for administration instead of liquidation:
IPs [insolvency practitioners] are just in it for the money, thats why they tried to stop me today. Its not a real company to them its just a fee.
Robinson also revealed that one of the other offers on the table for buying Sturmey Archer from Derby was a management buy-out.
I had many more questions for Robinson but he said he had a train to catch.
PIC: Robinson (left) and his accountant