Social enterprise restaurant had nearly £1m debts before collapse

Create founder Sarah Dunwell at the King Street restaurant in 2011.
Create founder Sarah Dunwell at the King Street restaurant in 2011.
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A HIGH-PROFILE social enterprise based in Yorkshire owed nearly £1m to more than 100 creditors at the time of its collapse.

Food industry training company Create’s directors asked insolvency experts Insolvency Practitioners Direct (IPD) to put it into voluntary liquidation last year after “tough commercial realities” forced the closure of its flagship restaurant on King Street in Leeds city centre.

Now a report compiled by IPD’s Martin Williamson has revealed that Create – full name The Create Foundation CIC – went under owing a total of £910,729 to 114 unsecured creditors.

It also reveals that “there will be no distributions made to unsecured creditors”, which effectively means they will not be getting any of their money back.

According to the report, firms owed money by Create included Yorkshire Water, British Telecom and British Gas as well as food and drink suppliers such as Lishmans, Delifresh and Ilkley Brewery.

Create was founded in 2007 to provide disadvantaged people with work and training opportunities in the food industry.

Praised by Prime Minister David Cameron, its King Street restaurant opened amid a blaze of publicity in 2011.

It won rave reviews from food critics such as Jay Rayner – but in February last year the restaurant closed without warning.

The following month it was announced that Create’s founder and chief executive Sarah Dunwell – a one-time businesswoman of the year – had stepped down.

She released a statement saying her involvement with the firm had been “an amazing experience”.

Create’s King Street site had already been handed back to its landlord when news broke in May last year that the company was on the brink of liquidation.

IPD’s Mr Williamson said at the time that the firm had simply “run out of money”. It also emerged last year that Leeds City Council had granted Create £85,000 rate relief on King Street and other premises.

The council said that it had an “important role” to play in getting behind social enterprises that “help people turn their lives around”. Create’s former home on King Street is now occupied by The Atlas pub.

A cafe that was set up by Create in the Wakefield One building is continuing to operate as a wholly separate enterprise to its old parent company.