Lancaster pub company Mitchell’s has gone into administration.
Staff and creditors contacted the Guardian and Visitor on Thursday to speak of their shock at the news just two weeks before Christmas.
Several pubs plus a head office in Lancaster are affected, along with many local suppliers who say they are owed thousands of pounds.
They own 1725, Fibbers and The Water Witch in Lancaster, The Duke of Rothesay and The Old Hall in Heysham, Royal Hotel in Bolton-le-Sands, William Mitchell in Morecambe, The Bobbin, The Station Hotel, restaurant and bar, The Tithe Barn in Garstang, and six further pubs in York and Leeds, as well as York Brewery, which when combined employ around 120 people.
Steven Muncaster and Sarah Bell of Duff & Phelps Ltd were appointed joint administrators on Wednesday.
Upon appointment, 14 staff were made redundant at the head office. All establishments are continuing to trade while Duff & Phelps seeks a buyer.
Steven Muncaster, managing director, Duff & Phelps, said: “The UK pub sector has suffered sustained adversity over the last decade, with the latest ONS statistics showing that nearly a quarter of pubs have closed since 2008, with the majority of these closures being small pubs.
“This troubled landscape coupled with rising business rates, increased minimum wage, and the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit has created difficult conditions for pubs across the UK.
“As such, the owners were left with no alternative but to put the company into administration.
“We are seeking a buyer for the group and we encourage any interested parties to come forward as soon as possible.”
One local supplier said she was devastated by the news, which came out of the blue and left her owed up to £10,000.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful,” she said. “They must have known this was happening and now they won’t answer any calls or emails. They just kept on buying from me knowing this was going to happen.
“I just can’t believe they have done this. It’s the timing of it that makes it so bad.”
Companies House have Mitchell’s directors listed as Jonathan Barker and Julia Hodge.
Mitchell’s of Lancaster was originally founded in 1871 by William Mitchell after he signed the lease on his very first pub and brewhouse – The Black Horse Inn.
The company has remained family-owned over the past 140 years and retained family traditions and core values for great service and quality cask ales.
More on this story as we get it.