OK, it's been a crazy couple of weeks, but here's what happened.
Basically, some information came to light regarding the structure of the company, and how that impacted onto UK company law. We had to stop trading immediately and resolve the situation, but for one reason and another, this was less than straightforward. The upshot was that the entire business, comprising the shop, the wholesale business Beer Paradise, and the mail order service beerritz.co.uk had to stop trading immediately and indefinitely.
It wasn't a solvency issue - the business is solvent and viable. But equally, we were advised by a fancy, serious, £400-an-hour lawyer (and it was a loooooong meeting) not to do anything on behalf of the company, so if you called me and I seemed less than helpful, I'm sorry. But read on, because there's good news.
Myself and the company operations manager rushed around trying to find a solution, and have happily succeeded. We organised a management buy-out - basically, we made an offer for the entire company (shop, wholesale and mail order), which was accepted. We are going to continue trading, honouring all existing debts and liabilites, and are going to carry on and build an even more successful business, buying and selling great beer to businesses and consumers across the UK and beyond.
At a company level, we are incredibly grateful for all the understanding and offers of support that people have given us. It's often implied that the beer business is friendly and gentlemanly, but to have it demonstrated so freely and generously is a humbling experience. At a personal level, I'd like to thank James Clay, Vertical Drinks and BrewDog for coming up with offers of employment that most people would tear off an arm to get. I'm sorry I couldn't take up your amazing offers, and I'm genuinely floored and flattered by them.
There are still some challenges that remain to be overcome, but as the Batman of Brewing Stuart Howe said recently, "true strength is forged on the anvil of adversity". I'm sure that we can continue to build a great company. Whether I can do that while continuing with a career as a writer is another matter. Frankly, I hope so, but things may go a little quiet here for a bit.
Lastly, thanks very much for all the kind words that people have written on their blogs and tweets over the last few weeks. It's been great to hear all of that enthusiasm, not only for the shop, but also for the sector as a whole. The great news is that the sector is still in growth - what has happened isn't bad for the craft/alternative/independent beer scene in the UK, it's good news. We're going to be around for years to come, and I haven't even told you the best bit: I now have a half share in a fork-lift truck. If that's not something to get excited about, I don't know what is.
Do what you love, love what you do. Message ends.