High Street Group loses second auditor in a year, still 18 months behind with accounts

This article below was written by the previous owner of bondreview in April 2021. It is being published because now that High Street GRP Ltd is in administration it will be interesting to see whether or not the prophecies came true. This article is 12 months old so it will obviously have been overtaken by events later in 2021.

Safe Or Scam has written two articles on the High Street GRP Ltd administration on its blog page

Lady Bracknell: Now, to minor matters. Are both your parents living?

Jack: I have lost both my parents.

Lady Bracknell: To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing, to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent, of either sex, before the season is quite over.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

High Street Group has lost a second auditor in the space of a year.

A filing with Companies House indicates that Haines Watts, who signed off the December 2018 accounts for holding company High Street Grp, have resigned as auditors.

Big Four juggernaut PWC had previously resigned as auditors in September 2020.

Before resigning, Haines Watts did manage to sign off the December 2018 accounts for the holding company High Street Grp Ltd. The accounts, as reviewed here, revealed that HSGrp would have made a loss of £24.5 million in 2018, had it not dumped High Street Commercial Finance, which raised money from bondholders, out of the group and into the personal ownership of HSG owner Gary Forrest. Haines Watts however objected to this move, on the basis that this booting out actually took place on 2 January 2019, and issued an “Adverse Opinion”, the strongest black mark available to an auditor.

Whether this has anything to do with Haines Watts’ subsequent removal as auditors is unknown.

HSG’s second auditor resignation in a year leaves a considerable amount of work undone. High Street Group remains a whole year and a half overdue with the December 2018 accounts for High Street Commercial Finance, which previously raised money from its bondholders; it has also been overdue with its December 2019 accounts since last year. The High Street Grp holding company remains overdue with its December 2019 accounts.

In my original review of January 2018, I noted that:

The investment literature claims that the group made 26 million profit in 2016 and has 100 employees. This is curious, because that level of profit and workforce would require the group to file full accounts with Companies House, yet High Street Grp Ltd’s last accounts (30 December 2016) were filed under the small company regime. This means the accounts did not have to be audited or display a profit and loss statement.

High Street Group’s subsequently posted accounts for 2017 and 2018 did appear to qualify for small company exemptions thanks to its losses and negative net assets. The issue is with the claim in the literature that it had a profit of £26 million in 2016. (Which is neither confirmed nor contradicted by the relevant accounts filed with Companies House, due to the profit and loss account being withheld under small company exemptions.)

High Street Group, via their lawyers, have twice vehemently contested my joining of the dots, claiming that I had defamed them by doing so. Yet they have never attempted to explain the discrepancy between a) the results claimed in its literature b) its claiming of small company exemptions, despite me asking them directly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.