Almtone-owned Canute Group will cease trading ahead of Christmas with the loss of 600-plus jobs, after attempts to revive the business in May via a controversial pre-pack sale failed.

Following the purchase of the business from administration for £1.3m by Almtone on 12 May, creditors were left nursing a £5.3m shortfall. However, despite ridding itself of debt, the business only narrowly avoided being wound up by HMRC last month after the taxman raised a petition against it.

This came as the amount the firm owed to creditors including its former pallet network, Pallet-Track, ballooned to more than £157,000 over the last few months.

A source close to the company confirmed the axe would fall this month. “I will be in the same position as all of the other 600 employees who will be seeking employment in 2019,” they told MT.

Another senior industry figure, that didn’t wish to be named, said: “They are looking to finish December 21st… that’s appalling to put people out of work with no money for Christmas.”

MT has also been contacted directly by a Canute employee’s partner who said “such a shame such a big local company is shutting its doors. Very bad for such a big company to go that way”.

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In a social media post seen by MT, another Canute employee shared their shock“Today I found out that the company I worked for is basically going out of business and thus being made redundant with immediate effect."

MT has also seen a comment online from Dan Bradshaw, listed as a tender analyst & control manager at Canute, in response to a post titled 'need great staff for 2019' under a Canute company logo, that a “lot of very talented people up for grabs here”.

One operator contacted MT to report that as a consequence of Canute preparing to close its Coventry depot on 21 December – it lists 70,000ft² of warehousing and Canute Engineering at that location - “customer is transferring their stock to us now. They are concerned there will be no staff to load so are getting agency in!”.

Canute Group Renault Premiums 2014 2

Speaking to a member of staff at Canute's Coventry site, they confirmed to MT that the 21 December would see most of the group's operations cease, although there would likely still be an administration function retained after this time to process wages etc. “I’ve worked here for five years and this has been the worst year, madness,” they said.

Begbies Traynor is understood to be in the frame to handle the insolvency process. The company has been contacted for comment.

The directors of Canute Group had not responded to multiple requests for comment as this article was published.

Canute senior management

Glenn Marshall (engineering and compliance director according to the firm’s website) and Michael Ventham remain the named directors of Almtone, which lists its subsidiaries as Canute Logistics, Canute Medical and Canute Engineering.

However, the business established by the Marshall family still lists Noel Marshall – son of founder Arthur or “Jim” Marshall - as MD on its website, although he is not recorded as a director at Companies House.