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CHAMBER 'AT RISK' OVER CASH FLOW CRISIS; Members in shock after receiving letter.

Byline: THOMAS MARTIN

SEFTON Chamber of Commerce is on the brink of collapse after running into a cash flow crisis.

The chamber, which represents 400 local businesses, is now working with insolvency practitioners over its future.

It means that, unless a rescue package can be put together, one of the biggest and most influential regional business organisations will fold.

Shocked members learned of the crisis in a letter from chairman Ron Lofthouse on behalf of the board of directors.

In it they discovered that the chamber had moved from the position of showing a small profit in the year to June 2013 to being in "imminent territory of wrongful trading". The letter indicates that a major issue was the "exceptionally slow rate of revenues from invoiced memberships" through the summer.

Chamber officials spoke to their bankers last week over a potential YOUR Email us liverpoolecho.

facility to get the group through the cash flow crisis, but this did not materialise.

Next Thursday's regular networking meeting has been cancelled and in its place members are being invited to an emergency meeting at Formby Hall where more details on the scale of the crisis will be revealed and the proposals for the future discussed.

The letter to members says: "The exceptionally slow rate of revenues from invoiced memberships experienced through the summer have not improved as expected during early September. This is despite the draft accounts of the trading year to 30th June 2013 indicating a return to small profit, following three years of losses through the economic downturn, and "credit crunch", as it was called.

"We arranged urgent correspondence with the bank within 24 hours, as we have now resolved that the business is in imminent territory of wrongful trading.

"Our management has ceased, as of today, any commitments to suppliers and partners until the cash position of the business has improved."

VIEWS letters@co." The letter finished: "The company is now receiving advice from an insolvency practitioner, who will be calling a special meeting with 21 days notice and you will receive a letter separately for that meeting probably before next Thursday. The understanding of the management and board, following discussions with the IP, is that a continuance of existing memberships and services is a desired objective."

Sefton Chamber boasts PS20m of incremental sales for business members through its tender alert programme.

It had 10,000 business attendances over two years and provides digital and online support for members, along with help with marketing, HR and training services. The chamber is expected to make a public statement after the members' meeting.

CAPTION(S):

LETTER: Ron Lofthouse, chairman of Sefton Chamber of Commerce
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 3, 2013
Words:442
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