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Barrington Harvey PR liquidated as director walks

Poor financials "exacerbated" by Harvey taking £80,000 for personal use; doors close after 22 years

UK videogame PR firm Barrington Harvey PR has gone into liquidation after 22 years in the business.

The company had a number of high-profile publisher, media and event partners, including Codemasters, Eidos and the annual Edinburgh Interactive Festival, and has over the years worked for Sony, Nintendo and ELSPA, now UKIE.

But for the past three years it has struggled by losing clients to rival firms - a position made worse by director Simon Harvey drawing around £80,000 from the company for personal use.

For the financial year to June 2009, the company made a loss of £258,000, and although financial reports are not yet available for 2010, "it is apparent that losses were also incurred" according to administrator Portland.

As well as losing clients in a changing market and bad debt to the tune of £45,000 in 2009, according to legal documents the company suffered deeper trading losses in late 2009 and early 2010.

"These were exacerbated by drawings that the director made on the company for personal use over a number of years which resulted in an apparent debt calculated by Mr Harvey to have been £80,000 before it was repaid shortly before our appointment," said the administrators.

"The lack of funds resulted in VAT and PAYE arrears accumulating, since there were no other significant suppliers that might have been extended, and the amount due to HMRC eventually reached around £200,000."

Harvey failed to secure new funding through private investors or bank loans, but did manage to sell property, £190,000 of which went towards clearing obligations to Barclays bank, which had supplied the overdraft to fund the business for many years.

"This advance has been treated firstly as a repayment of the amounts that Mr Harvey owed the company and the balance remains as a debt now due from the company," detailed the administrators.

"Mr Harvey, as the company's principal shareholder, has already concluded that he no longer wanted to support the company, nor to be employed by it, and instead prefers for there to be an orderly winding up."

A number of well-respected employees have walked from the company in the past 12 months, including former director Simon Byron.

However, Simon Harvey started a new business - Barrington Harvey Media - in April 2010 "with a view to breaking ground in new media including TV broadcast and interactive and to protect those parties dealing with the business while the future of the existing company was in doubt."

Simon Harvey could not be reached at the time of going to press. Portland has yet to reply to calls from GamesIndustry.biz for more information on the current administration and liquidation process.

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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