Artisan loses Sheffield scheme as losses continue


Developer Artisan Holdings has lost control of the Fox Hill development site in Sheffield after administrators were appointed to the company responsible for the project, Artisan H Ltd reports

Mark Firmin and Howard Smith from the Leeds office of accountancy firm KPMG were appointed as joint administrators Artisan H Ltd, which is one of several company’s within the Artisan Holdings group, on December 12.

A statement from the administrators says that its “current understanding is that the company’s only asset is the long leasehold of the Fox Hill development in Sheffield”.

Fox Hill was initially proposed as a £27m scheme designed by Dutch architecture firm Meccanoo. It was approved by Sheffield City Council in 2007 and started on site in 2008. However, during that time just six of a proposed 179 homes have been built and a further 23 are partially completed, even though the project has received around £1.8m in funding from the government’s Homes & Communities Agency.

The administrators said that Artisan H had ceased trading prior to their appointment. They added that they were still “gathering information regarding the company, any employees, and the asset, to enable a full options review to take place prior to finalising a strategy for the administration”.

Meanwhile, delayed accounts have just been filed for Artisan Holdings for the year to June 30, 2011, which show that the company declared a pre-tax loss of £1.7m (2009: £3.3m loss) on turnover of just £768,000 (£1m).

The loss was largely due to a £1.44m writedown in the value of property investments. It also declared a £500,000 loss on property disposals. The value of the company’s net assets also declined  by around 24% to £5.5m by the end of the financial year.

Notes to the accounts prepared by founder Carol Ainscow as the firm’s sole director state that Artisan Holdings is continuing to generate revenue from leasing commercial premises, despite “very challenging market conditions”.

It said that demand remains strong in central Manchester and that current leases were “in place for several years to come”, and that it has no bank debt.

However, it added that it was reviewing its investment businesses, which had been “adversely affected by current economic conditions”.

Auditors UHY Hacker Young made a number of disclaimers to the audit, stating that it only had “limited evidence” available to it as it hadn’t received cashflow forecasts or information on subsidiaries on which Artisan Holdings relies for support.

As a result, the auditor said that it was “unable to form a view as to whether the financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of the company’s affairs” at the year end.