SKOPE: Winding up order issued
Under-pressure controversial signage business Skope Group has seen trading entity Scream Visual issued with a winding up order, and Skope Group Holdings is now also in external administration.
The labyrinth of interconnected Skope businesses will keep the administrators busy as they try and figure out the various relationships, and crucially who owns which assets in companies ultimately controlled by Ann and Charles Orren.
The whole Skope Group is already in voluntary administration, just six months after it saw $1.5m of the $2.3m debt owed by its de facto manufacturing arm Ckear Skies wiped off through a Deed of Company Arrangement, to the fury of the rest of the signage industry.
The Winding Up order has just been issued by factoring company Cashflow Finance, one of the businesses that Skope Group uses to receive advance payments on its invoices.
Scream Visual is run by Charles Orren, partner of Skope Group director Ann Orren, who according to the original administrator was also the de facto director of Clear Skies.
Skope Group was placed into voluntary administration by Ann Orren last month, four days after she registered a new trading name Skope Group Wholesale Manufacturing, causing concerns that a phoenix ploy was in process.
Under Skope Group's tangled business model the manufacturing and sales arms were separated, with the manufacturing arm, Clear Skies, run by what the administrator called a 'dummy director' Robert Price. Its work for Skope Group was sold at what the administrator called 'uncommercial rates', and it racked up huge debts, 70 per cent of which were wiped out under the DOCA. Scream Visual is one of half a dozen associated companies.
Skope Group had made four monthly payments of $22,000 under the DOCA arranged for Clear Skies, but missed the February payment. Administrator Simon Thorn from PKF sent creditors a letter saying that “I am concerned that there is likely to be a material contravention of the deed.” Creditors had to accept a 30-cent-on-the-dollar deal, and are still owed $700,000.
Under the terms of the DOCA, Clear Skies got three years to pay $500,000 to creditors and two years to pay $288,000 to the ATO. The company was able to produce the same products and operate from the same premises, with the same equipment and the same staff, providing the same services, but being $1.5m better off.
Skope Group and its various trading entities – Skope Group t/a Skope Group Services, Scream Visual – which has Charles Orren as manager – Signage Skope, Sign Fix formerly t/a Focal Signs, Acksis Group and Skope Maintenance Services. were placed into admin.
Clear Skies racked up enormous debts in the last three years: It lost $116,000 in 2017, $853,000 in 2018, and $842,000 last year. However, the DOCA reduced the $2.3m owed to less than $800,000. Orren promptly bought the $1.5m-better-off Clear Skies for $100,000.