Trustee Marc van Zanten about Levarht bankruptcy:

"The company collapsed amazingly quickly after its suspension"

The first bankruptcy report about Levarht has been published. Earlier, it was announced that Fruit Cleaning Service, a Dutch company's, shareholders had bought the Levarht name, its brands, the business' goodwill, and some of its machines and packaging materials for about €2 million.

Now, it seems none of the almost 300 employees will be included in this takeover. That is unusual, says trustee Marc van Zanten of CMS Derks Star Busmann. "Especially since the party that acquired the company had indicated it would be keeping those workers."

The bankruptcy report shows that Levarht's profit margins had been falling for several years. The company ended 2021 with a negative result of approximately €7.4 million. Levarht proposed a restructuring plan but ran out of time before it could successfully implement it. Also, there was a limit to how much money was available to meet purchase contracts.

This Dutch company's affiliated growers were not confident about Levarht's ability to meet its (financial) obligations to them during the season either. As a result, Levarht could not make economically favorable purchases. The company was short on buying staff too. Nor did the Dutch bank, ING, want to extend or expand Levarth's credit facility under such circumstances.

Van Zanten explains that Levarht owes around €30 million to, among others, suppliers. "These debts aren't very long overdue; most were within the standard payment period." He stresses that the bankruptcy's exact cause would have to be investigated soon. "The report indicates that profits had come under pressure and key customers' margins had been lower."

"Combined with the higher costs, that led to issues with credit insurers and growers' organizations. To avoid having to invest another €15 million before the season, it was decided this spring, to pull the plug in time to prevent those problems from escalating further," continues the trustee.

"It's amazing how quickly the company collapsed after its suspension. I've never seen anything like that following a bankruptcy. That shows how unique the fresh produce business is. There have to be products in stores the next day, so customers waste no time finding other suppliers. That's also why the company fell apart so quickly, and why it was quickly divvied up again."

From April 26 to May 11, Veilinghuis Troostwijk in Amsterdam will sell Levhardt's contents via an online auction. All machinery, equipment, forklifts, trucks, staff cars, computers, and office furniture will be auctioned. There will be a viewing day on May 10 at the business premises in De Kwakel. "The good thing for the creditors is that they can expect some type of payment. I can't say how much yet, but it should be substantial. I hope as high as possible," Van Zanten concludes.


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