MTvan, Courier Finance Ltd & Tim Gilbert: Physician, heal thyself

It looks like Tim Gilbert has finally exposed himself as the arse that I’d always suspected he was. Tim of course is (or maybe was, who knows) head of the failed (or maybe failing, who knows) Courier Finance Ltd ’empire’, which included Speed Couriers, MTvan, CFL and some slightly dodgy-looking ‘learn how to be a courier’ websites designed to either part courier owner-drivers from their cash or to steer them towards the Mtvan website which would do the same.

Somewhat of a self-proclaimed courier industry guru, Tim is quite profuse with his advice to other, less experienced, businessmen on how they should run their same day courier businesses. Some would say that he was well qualified to give such advice, having started Speed Couriers from scratch (along with Martin Rutty) and then apparently playing his part in steering it through its troubles in 2001-02.

The collapse of OnDigital, one of Speed’s largest customers, and their foray into the home delivery market caused severe problems for the business back in 2002, so it might be expected that Tim would be more wary than most of allowing a single customer to become too important to the business, of allowing a business with no history of profitable trading to run up a significant (and potentially damaging) amount of debts and of tying the fortunes of his business to a company that specialises in home delivery, particularly at a time when consumer spending is falling and the home delivery market is contracting.

Nevertheless, and despite already having had a warning about Amtrak’s stability and potential profitability when they went into liquidation in January 2007, Tim (or at least CFL) were willing to provide credit to the newly-formed Netfold Ltd, who had bought Amtrak’s business, and apparently continued to supply them with credit after they failed to file their first set of annual accounts at the due time back in March 2008.

By the time that Netfold Limited t/a Amtrak went into administration on 22 August 2008 they obviously owed Courier Finance Ltd a considerable sum, causing them to apparently ‘cease trading’ on 10 September 2008. These debts presumably didn’t date back to the period before Netfold was due to file their accounts – in fact it appears that CFL were still carrying out work for Amtrak/Netfold right up until the time they went into administration. What the hell were they thinking of?

With all this muppetry in mind I was astonished when somebody brought the latest edition of Courier Direct magazine to my attention. On pages 18-19 of issue 1045 there’s an article written by Tim Gilbert “Don’t let the credit crunch crush your courier business underfoot – Tim Gilbert suggests a few measures to recession proof your courier business”.

The article includes some good advice such as “Regular, up-to-date and accurate financial information is the first priority”, “The right action may involve painful decisions, especially for you and your staff, but it’s always better to face the pain than to lose the business”, “To avoid running out of cash you’ll need to be on top of your credit control”, “In the good times, you may have been able to take money out of the business. In the bad times, the bank, or arithmetic, may dictate that you have to put some back in to enable the business to continue to trade”, “insist on good financial information, keep on top of the cashflow, keep debt to a minimum, and put away some personal money for a rainy day”. The phrase Physician, heal thyself comes to mind.

The one piece of advice that is sadly missing is to keep an eye on your major customers’ financial situations on a daily basis – they’re exposed to recession in exactly the same way as you and they might not have taken the necessary steps to recession-proof their businesses.

Presumably the article was written shortly before Amtrak/Netfold’s demise and published at this entirely inappropriate time a few weeks later. It would be very cynical of me to imagine that this important piece of advice was left out of Tim’s article because he wasn’t too keen on CFL’s many suppliers looking too deeply into their obviously precarious financial situation. No, I think that would be to overestimate his intelligence. I think the plain fact is that he’s an arse, a muppet, a fool, and that he spent so much time advising other people on how they should run their businesses that he lost sight of what was happening to his own.

And on that note I’m off – I’ve got a business to recession-proof.

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Business

Posted by Alec at 11:13 am, September 16, 2008

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5 Comments so far

  1. stan added on  October 1st, 2008 at 11:38

    cfl were owed less than £50K (quite a bit less) so how did that sink “a multi million pound turnover business”? (as he put it), also mtvan has “ceased trading” but isnt in liquidation…..work that one out

  2. regarging stans comments if cfl were owed £50K then CFL shouldn’t have ceased trading BAD BAD BAD DECISION AS IT DAMAGED MTVAN.COM. CFL AND MTVAN BEING THE SAME OWED BSC LOGISTICS LTD £24329. NO LIQUIDATOR APPOINTED IS HE RUNNING OFF WITH MONEY???????. ALSO STARNGE DHL HAVE SOME OF CFL’S ACCOUNTS

    BILLY

  3. Update for those concerned

    TENON RECOVERY HAVE TAKEN OVER CFL’s AFFAIRS
    PLEASE SEE COMPANIES HOUSE WEBSITE

    THANKS BILLY

  4. Alec added on  October 15th, 2008 at 14:17

    Courier Finance Ltd
    c/o Tenon Recovery
    3rd Floor
    Lyndean House
    43/46 Queens Road
    Brighton
    BN1 3XB

    Tel: 01273 725566
    Fax: 01273 724502

    brighton@tenongroup.com

  5. To whom it may concern, might be a little late but there is a credditors meeting today

    thanks billy

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