My mate Andrew Beacock contacted me this morning to tell me that Amazon is sending out emails cancelling pre-orders for Cain’s: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint. I thought I’d better write a post to say that the book has gone to press and is now set to be published on December 1st. If you have received an email like this and would like to be notified when the book comes out, either keep an eye on this blog, or sign up for Amazon’s email alert on the book’s product page. It won’t be long now anyway.
There hasn’t been a lot of news from Cains since the Dusanj brothers took the brewery back in September. No doubt they are resisting building up expectations and staying away from the limelight for good reason. But it looks like there is no shortage of ambition at the chastened company, which is hiring again:
Due to exciting expansion plans opportunities has risen to join our strong team. The site operates a rotating 3 shifts, 6-2, 2-10 & 10-6 shift pattern with overtime as necessary to meet the business requirements …
Need a job? Here’s the link.
Book publishing is a slow old process and it’s remarkable how quickly Liverpool University Press have been able to turn around my revisions to Cains: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint following the dramas of the summer and early autumn. But turn them around they have. I saw the finished proofs this morning and should see the finished cover this afternoon. All being well the book is going to press tomorrow, which means there should be copies available in about two weeks, with an official publication date of December 1st, just in time for Christmas. Pre-ordering is an option …
Unsurprisingly the Dusanj brothers are still resolutely refusing to make public comments about the recent collapse and buy-back of Cain’s. But Alex Turner of the Daily Post has been examining information from the administrators and revealed yesterday that a whopping £25 million is unlikely to be repaid to unsecured creditors of the Cains Beer Company. Those creditors include several local councils, including Liverpool City Council, Sefton, Knowsley and others. As the banking crisis spreads that’s going to be an increasingly familiar story, but what is striking about this is the revelation that the brothers bought back the company for as little as £103,750. They lost millions when the company failed of course, but the buy-back figure does show how little the company was worth without control of the brewery and city centre pubs, which were already owned by the Dusanj family:
A report by administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers has detailed the trail of creditors.
The Bank of Scotland was owed £28m, although it did have charges registered over more than 100 properties. The large debt was a result of the bank supporting Cains’ £37m reverse takeover of Honeycombe Leisure in 2007, which saw it acquire 92 pubs.
Trade creditors were owed nearly £8m, with pub landlords Punch and Nectar among the worst hit. Between them, they owned 48 of the 76 pubs leased by Cains and were owed £509,000 and £100,000 respectively.
Here’s the link to the story.
Over the last week or so I’ve been working on the revisions I had to make to Cain’s: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint. Although the amount of writing and revising wasn’t much in the scheme of things, it wasn’t easy. When you plan and write a book, you have an idea in your head of what is going to be in it and to some extent what order it will take. The memory of writing it is mixed up with all the memories of the time in which it is written, so returning to it at a late stage with new information feels a bit like going back in time and meeting with yourself to discuss the future. As every time traveller knows, that’s not good.
What has been useful though is having the chance to reflect on the events not only of the last few months, but further back. We read the past from the point of view of the present after all. This is a brewery and a city with a long history that includes many events like this. Rewriting the story has allowed me to get in perspective what a great achievement it was for Robert Cain to make the brewery a success in the first place, but also to think about the idea that over 200 years of history it is the myths and stories that linger.
As of today the work is done and the book should be on the shelves in about a month. I am very keen to have a real copy of the finished book in my hand but I very much doubt that this story, or even this part of the story, is over.
I’ve been enjoying a day in the Lake District, but it looks like some people have been hard at work. Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj are back in charge of the Robert Cain brewery. The details are still unclear, but it looks like the brewery jobs and the jobs in the city centre pubs are safe. The administrators are looking for a buyer for the 90 former Honeycombe pubs, so this looks on the face of it like a de-merger, but Liverpool still has its brewery.
Crain’s Manchester Business reports:
The Dusanj brothers have bought Cains brewery in Liverpool from the administrator for an undisclosed sum.
Companies controlled by Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj, who were chief executive and chief operating officer of Cains Beer Company plc until the administrators were appointed on August 7, have also bought the leasehold of nine pubs.
David Chubb, Ian Green and Craig Livesey of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, joint administrators of Robert Cain & Co Limited, said the buyers are expected to continue the business as a going concern, saving the jobs of approximately 90 brewery and pub employees.
Neil Hodgson in the Liverpool Echo is reporting that the Dusanj brothers look likely to return to Cain’s brewery. A brewery so good they had to take it over twice. We should know for sure by next week, but this would be great news:
The Dusanj brothers are poised to sensationally regain control of Liverpool brewer Cains.
A possible deal could be clinched by the end of next week, the administrator in charge of the 158-year-old Toxteth company confirmed.
The Publican reported yesterday that administrators at the Cain’s Beer Company are close to announcing their plans for the company’s future. And it looks like the Dusanj brothers are the front runners. There’s many a slip of course, but if brewing stays in Liverpool I propose a new Cain’s winter brew, to be called ‘Phoenix Ale’, ‘Gnat’s Whisker’, or ‘Great Escape’. It’s hard to believe this saga only kicked off in a public way in July:
The identity of the new owner of collapsed Liverpool brewer Cains Beer Company could be unveiled as early as next week.
The former AIM-listed brewer is currently in the hands of administrators at accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The firm has spent the last few weeks sifting through a number of propositions for the business which went under two months ago with debts in excess of £30m.
Front runners in the race to snap up the group are Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj, the pair who bought the Liverpool-based Cains in 2002. It is believed the pair have both the cash and the determination to buy back the business.
Just before I left to go on holiday in August I gave a couple of interviews for local newspapers, including one for this article by Mike Chapple at the Daily Post, about having to revise the Cain’s book in the light of recent events. It’s an interesting position to be in. Quite a few people have asked about it so I thought I would write a few things down here.
I began working on my book about the Cain’s brewery in the early summer of 2006. Over the following year or so I worked on it alongside bits of freelance work and teaching and I submitted the manuscript in August 2007. There were times in that year when I spent weeks deliberating over a piece of research, testing possibilities, writing and rewriting until the story made sense. Robert Cain and the story of his brewery became for a while the things I thought about last thing at night and the things that woke me up in the morning.
The Cain’s book has been scheduled for publication in September 2008 since the beginning of the year and by July production was well advanced. Towards the end of that month I received the proofs to read and correct. As it stood then the book concluded with an upbeat tale of a brewery’s resurgence and the renewed confidence of a great city. I looked forward to seeing it on the shelf in Waterstones. But within days of sending back the proofs, history intervened. First there was the disputed tax bill and the winding up order, then the poor results. On August 1st the Bank of Scotland refused any further support for the company and on August 7th Cain’s went into administration. Clearly I would be going back whether I liked it or not.
What happens next is in the hands of the administrators who are working hard to rescue what they can of the Cain’s Beer Company and restore the business to an operational state. I set out to write a history book–the story goes back 200 years–and find myself waiting for current affairs to work themselves through so I can update the final chapter. As long as the Robert Cain brewery is still making beer of course the story will never end, but the book is now due for publication towards the end of October.
Siobhan and I have received the proofs for Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language, which is now scheduled for January 2009. I may regret saying this, but this book seems unlikely to be overtaken by current events.
Not so Cain’s: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint. The administrators of the Cain’s Beer Company will be keen to find a quick resolution to the company’s troubles, preferably in the form of a buyer who will keep the jobs and the brewing operation in Liverpool. As a result the publication date for Cain’s: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint is being pushed back to October so that I can pull together the events of the last couple of months and bring the book up to date before release. In many ways the story is much bigger than the current news agenda–it goes back 200 years for one thing–but I’m pleased to get the chance to do justice to what’s happened.