Posted: 07/05/2020

COVID-19 ‘hinders’ prospects of rescue for liquidated charcuterie distributor

Cannon & Cannon had invested heavily in slicing and packing in anticipation of supermarket orders – as well as for its own brand

The virus-driven closure of bars and restaurants across the UK from 21st March may have stymied hopes of a rescue package for charcuterie distributor Cannon & Cannon.

The London-based British cured meats specialist was put into voluntary creditors’ liquidation just before the lockdown, with debts of over £500,000.

Liquidator David Rubin & Partners told FFD that agent Williams & Partners had been instructed to market the business as a going concern, but that “due to COVID-19, the sale process has been hindered”.

At least two-thirds of Cannon & Cannon’s revenue came from foodservice – the sector that could take longest to bounce back when the lockdown ends. 

“We anticipate there will be demand once the crisis is over,” the liquidator said. However, some charcuterie experts have questioned whether the concept of a specialist British charcuterie distributor has run its course.

Cannon & Cannon hit serious cash-flow trouble after sales failed
to keep pace with heavy investment in slicing and packing facilities at a
new production base at Spa Terminus in Bermondsey, as well
as a major rebrand. At least one hoped-for supermarket contract, with Aldi, failed to materialise.

While finance companies are the biggest individual creditors, figures seen by FFD suggest Cannon & Cannon’s failure leaves at least 17 British charcuterie producers, including most of the sector’s big names, facing losses totalling around £70,000. 

One high-end producer told FFD it had become obvious Cannon & Cannon was struggling as bills took longer and longer to be settled. “Towards the end we were acting as their bank,” he said.

It is understood Cannon & Cannon’s directors considered buying its assets under a pre-pack adminstration deal, while at least one producer was interested in acquiring the business outright. But it appears all potential buyers got cold feet as the lockdown deepened. 

A piecemeal sale of assets is now one possibility, with a consortium of four British producers among those rumoured to be interested.  

Founded by Sean Cannon in 2010, initially in partnership with his brother, Joe, Cannon & Cannon is credited with raising awareness of British charcuterie and creating a route to market for small producers.

Starting with its own stall on Borough Market alongside the wholesale operation, it developed consumer training courses and an online shop, as well as launching the British Cured Meat Awards. 

New international trade body The Charcuterie Board (TCB) was due to work with Cannon & Cannon on judging this year’s awards, which are now on hold.

Read more industry news in May’s edition of Fine Food Digest – read online here.

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