St Mary’s Roman Catholic girl’s school had dwindling pupil numbers, which in turn had a negative impact on the school’s revenue. With a number of fixed overheads, including significant staff costs, the position was becoming challenging. A sale was agreed; however, with the onset of the pandemic, this fell through. It became apparent that a number of boarders would be adversely affected going into the new school year, making selling the business untenable.
It was at this stage that our restructuring and insolvency team were called upon. The team, led by Paul Grundy and Robin Koolhoven, acted swiftly to appoint administrators who sought to sell the school as a going concern to preserve as much value as possible. However, with no guaranteed pupil numbers for the new academic year, selling the school as a going concern also became unlikely.
Dorset county council acquired the school, repurposing it as a school for children with SEND – special educational needs and disabilities. We were trusted advisors to the joint administrators throughout this process, helping to complete the sale of the former girls’ school to the council earlier this year. This transaction required colleagues from a variety of teams to come together to get a positive result, including our education and charities and real estate teams as well as the restructuring and Insolvency team.
Simon Girling, from accounting company BDO, who worked with HCR on this, said: “The team at HCR offered sound and timely advice on all aspects of this transaction from start to finish. Their knowledge and expertise in the sector was invaluable to obtaining a good outcome for the school’s creditors.”
Paul Grundy said: “The case stood out for me because it was a paradigm of an opportunity to work with colleagues in different teams to achieve a positive outcome for the client. By using the insolvency tools available we were able to maintain the use of the school site, keeping with its historical use for the ongoing provision of children’s education.”