Collapse of Fishery Management Ltd throws central Midlands’ trout fisheries into uncertain future

Idyllic Eyebrook is one of the three Midland’s fisheries affected by the company’s liquidation.

The opening of the season in the Midlands has been sent into turmoil, following the announcement that Fishery Management Ltd, which runs Draycote Water, and Eyebrook and Thornton reservoirs has gone into voluntary liquidation.

The three large-water fisheries located near Rugby in Warwickshire, Corby in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire respectively, formed the nucleus of trout fishing in the central Midlands, and had been run for a number of seasons under the astute and highly experienced management eye of Ifor Jones.

However, following the unfortunate and untimely death of Ifor on January 16 this year, it was hoped that an interim team of his two daughters, Sophia and Cassandra Rose, along with his friends, Arthur Olding and Mark Hunt, could manage the business into the future, and they were incorporated as directors of the company on December 7, 2023, after Ifor’s diagnosis the previous month.

Tom Bird, General Manager of Fishery Management Ltd, of which Ifor was company director, said shortly after Ifor’s death that “all family and staff want to make sure that [his legacy of top quality fisheries] continues to operate to the same high standards”, stating the openings of both Draycote and Thornton would be delayed until March 1, 2024.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed directors set about consolidating the accounts to gain a view on the state of health of the business. This process took until late January 2024, but the conclusion of the account consolidation made “hard and unwelcome reading”, said the directors.

Unfortunately, the business was found “to be very heavily in debt, with little working capital and a low asset base”. The team explored every possibility to work through the identified issues and transition the business as a going concern”, explained a press release, made on Friday February 23, “Sadly, to no avail”.

On consultation with the firm’s accountants, Haines Watts, discussions were entered into with Leonard Curtis, one of the largest independent firms in the UK, specialising in corporate recovery, insolvency and business restructuring. “With great regret and sadness, a decision was subsequently made this week to wind down the business with immediate effect and put it into voluntary liquidation. This was the only option available”, said the acting directors.

They were keen to point out that, “no salary was taken at any point by any director, no money was removed from the business at any time” and that their own money had been used to both run the business and pay for the insolvency process. “This cost alone was and is considerable” said the release.

The acting directors also expressed their thanks to “all of the staff and in particular Tom Bird and Lloyd Thompson, for their professional attitude, efforts and cooperation during this difficult period”.

“We would also like to thank the long-standing customers of Ifor’s business for their patience and understanding. This isn’t the news any of us would want to hear regarding the business and the prospects for fly fishing Draycote, Eyebrook or Thornton reservoirs. Whilst indeed this brings to an end a chapter in fly fishing that has touched many people’s lives, including our own, we do not believe it will ultimately be the end of fly fishing on these waters”, concluded the press release.

FF&FT has contacted Leonard Curtis regarding further clarification of the situation, regarding the fisheries, their future, the staffing, and the handling of any pre-paid advance tickets, but no comment has yet been received.

Read Mark Bowler’s blog