The MD of the Antique Wine Company has said the firm is set to enter liquidation after efforts to revitalise its finances have failed.
Antique Wine Co (AWC) has been left in an untenable position following a drop-off in Bordeaux trading and in the aftermath of a failed lawsuit against the group over alleged fake wine, managing director Stephen Williams told Decanter.com last night (19 May).
‘After 26 years, we are going to put our company into a liquidation process,’ he said. ‘It’s heartbreaking for me to see this happen.’
He said Andrew Tate, of Kreston Reeves, has been appointed administrator for AWC, which has traded in some of the world’s best and rarest wines over the last two-and-a-half decades.
Full details were still unclear at the time of writing. An official announcement was expected to appear shortly in the London Gazette.
Williams said AWC’s capital had been depleted. The firm has cut jobs in the past year and shut its Hong Kong office several weeks ago.
The headcount in London has gone from 35 to 12 people in the last 12 months, Williams said, adding that he deeply regretted the impact on staff and also investors.
A merger deal with another London-based wine merchant fell apart in the final stages earlier this year, he added.
Williams blamed AWC’s problems on a significant drop in Bordeaux wine trading, particularly in 2012 and 2013.
He also said that a lawsuit filed against AWC by US wine collector Julian LeCraw Jr had damaged the company financially, and attributed some of the impact to ‘negative media coverage’.
LeCraw claimed that AWC had knowingly sold him several counterfeit wines, including a bottle of 1787 vintage Château d’Yquem. He sought $25m in damages in a court in the US state of Georgia.
But, AWC defended its innocence and the case was dismissed by a US district court in Atlanta in 2015. ‘I stand by our defence,’ Williams said this week.
The exact levels of AWC’s debt and wine stocks were unknown at the time of writing. But, Williams said the administrator would have stock available to sell off and that he and several fellow investors were themselves writing off £5m of debt.
A creditors’ meeting has been scheduled for 10 June, Williams said.