OwnerShips phoenix?

Published: Friday, 07 May 2010

OWNERSHIPS Financial Director, Anthony Trueman, has given OwnerShips Ltd the kiss of death by announcing that it is to go into receivership with debts of £1.8m, writes Allan Richards.

However, OwnerShips staff, working unpaid, are attempting to keep it on life support. In  8th May up to 1200 Owners met meet with directors in Stevenage to hear what happened and try to find a way forward.

Unpaid bills

The announcement has affected owners, about half of whom are investors in the company, staff who will no longer have jobs, and suppliers, often marinas and boatyards, who have unpaid bills for moorings and maintenance services.

Some marinas and boatyards have rallied round, working in conjunction with OwnerShips local managers, so that owners can continue to use boats. Local managers are self employed part time staff, almost exclusively share owners themselves, who provide an interface between boatyards and owners.

Chained up

However, some boatyards have 'chained up' boats demanding that owners settle OwnerShips debts before the boat is used.

Local manager, Andrew Cooley (a shared owner on nb Sundowner) has been quick off the mark managing to set up an interim scheme at Tatenhall Marina, Cheshire, for the 17 OwnerShips boats moored there. A similar scheme will be set up by another local manager, Tom Houston, operating out of Great Haywood. In total, and due to the goodwill of GJP Marinas, the short term future of about one third of OwnerShips 100 boats is now assured.

Cheryl Howes of Kate boats moved quickly to assure owners who moor at Stockton Top Marina that the company would do everything it could to help despite large unpaid bills.


Well known local manager for Stockton Top (and an OwnerShips supplier) Barbara Payne, is being hailed as something of a hero. She states:

"I trusted Allen Matthews as a good businessman and most of all a friend, so I loaned him in good faith £161,000 to enable him to proceed with the Polish boats."

She adds that she is owed a further £8,000 in unsettled bills. Despite all this, and being unpaid, she is continuing to provide a service.

The meeting

At face value, the fate that has befallen OwnerShips does have a precedent as a similar situation occurred with Challenger where the actions of a single person led to the downfall of the company. However, unlike Challenger's Ed Rimmer, OwnerShips' Allen Mathews is dead and, quite naturally, some owners want somebody alive to take responsibility.

If Anthony Trueman can convince his audience tomorrow (Saturday), many of whom will have lost several thousand pounds, that nobody else was involved or had knowledge of this loss then he will be given a fair hearing on a way forward.

More transparency

What owners will want to see in any replacement organisation proposal is more transparency. Ring fenced online bank accounts available for owners inspection is a must.

A second requirement is core business only. Any new organisation must only deal in the management of UK based shared ownership boats to ensure funds are not used for other purposes.

The third requirement is that governance of any new organisation must be placed in the hands of boat owners by way of share issue or by making it a co-operative or mutual. This would preserve and enhance the important club like ethos of OwnerShips.

It will be an interesting meeting. If owners do not spend too long raking over the ashes, perhaps a phoenix will arise!