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Exclusive: New company “born out of” The Black Hole as Leeds agency follows CVA with liquidation


The Leeds agency previously known as The Black Hole is set to be formally placed into liquidation tomorrow, just 19 months after entering into a company voluntary agreement (CVA).

The agency has been trading as TBH Agency since The Black Hole – whose clients had included Argos, Swinton Insurance and Homebase – entered into the CVA in June 2014.

The Black Hole logo The Black Hole’s logo

At the time, chief executive Phil Crick told us the company intended to “fully honour” its commitment to creditors and that the matter related more to the “unravelling” required after the departure of former director Paul Senior.

Just over a year and a half later, however, the agency – which was once quarter-owned by Finance Yorkshire after a £250,000 investment in November 2012 – is once again in trouble.

Tomorrow, a creditors’ meeting is to be held in Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire at which insolvency practictioners O’Haras Limited are expected to be officially appointed.

Ben Ramsay, a director at O’Haras, told us he could not provide any further detail on the case until his company was formally appointed at the meeting.

However, creditors are likely to be concerned to see that a new company has already been launched in its place.

The Customer Engagement Agency Ltd was incorporated on November 10th 2015 and has its registered office listed as Rodley House on Coal Hill Lane in Leeds, the same registered office used by both The Black Hole and TBH Agency. MD Phil Crick and Ian Feber, a founder director of The Black Hole, are listed as directors with a shareholding of 47.5% each.

It is trading as Alchemy, and states on its website that it was “born out of the creative fires of The Black Hole”.

Phil Crick Phil Crick

Explaining the new company on his LinkedIn page, Crick adds: “In order to reflect the creative, communication and strategic work we have been doing for over 20 years at The Black Hole, we have changed our branding and proposition to a full customer engagement agency.

“We have brought all the experience of the superb staff at The Black Hole and refocussed our processes and output across all channels, whilst always putting the end customer first in all our thinking. Welcome to Alchemy.”

We have attempted to contact the new company for a comment.

It’s as yet unclear what will happen to the 60-month repayment plan laid out in the CVA, although we have received reports that the company defaulted on the payments after just four months. We have not been able to confirm this.

The Black Hole was employing 20 staff at the time of the CVA, and reported a turnover of £1.65m in 2013.

Update 12pm 04/01: We have subsequently spoken to Phil Crick who said he would not be making any comment until after tomorrow’s creditors’ meeting.

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