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Free insolvency advice for the e-cigarette industry following recent legislative changes

The future of the e-cigarette industry has been threatened by new regulations brought in under the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), 2014. The new rules took effect in May 2016, and are intended to regulate the tobacco industry across the EU, providing additional protection for the health of individuals 

There are fears that this directive will cause irreparable and unnecessary financial harm to e-cigarette companies, however, with a major objection being the classification of electronic cigarettes as tobacco products.

This introduces stringent restrictions on the development and sale of e-cigarette products, including e-liquids and canisters, and threatens to cause extreme financial difficulty for operators in the industry.

What changes have been brought in via the Tobacco Products Directive?

  • The volume of e-cigarette tanks and canisters must be no more than 2ml
  • The nicotine strength of an e-liquid should be 20mg/ml
  • E-liquid refills and containers are to hold a maximum volume of 10ml
  • Some ingredients are now banned, including caffeine, taurine, and colourings
  • Containers and packaging for e-liquids must have clear labelling, be child-resistant, and also tamper-proof
  • Notification must be given to the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulations Agency (MHRA) prior to sale, with six months notice being required for new products 

What does this mean for retailers and manufacturers?

From 20th May 2017, retailers in the e-cigarette industry can only sell goods that are licensed. This means that any unsold stock becomes obsolete, creating a potentially large cash shortfall that could affect business success in the long-term.

The requirement for e-cigarette products to be licensed by manufacturers and producers also introduces significant extra cost to their business operations. Licensing a pharmaceutical supply is very expensive, and as the legislation now states that every product variety has to be licensed, it could even threaten a company’s ability to survive.

Seek free advice from licensed insolvency practitioners

Begbies Traynor offers free advice to anyone operating in the e-cigarette industry. Our licensed insolvency practitioners have extensive commercial experience and industry knowledge, and will clarify your options to escape potential insolvency. 

Depending on the nature and extent of your financial position, these could include:

Time to Pay (TTP) Agreement

HMRC offers extra time to pay tax and National Insurance arrears if they believe a company’s financial difficulties are only temporary. Although the usual duration of a TTP is 3-6 months, we may be able to negotiate an instalment plan of up to 12 months.

The involvement of licensed professionals gives HMRC confidence that you will be able to afford your monthly repayments, and that the financial difficulties are, in fact, likely to be temporary.

Alternative finance

A number of alternative finance options may be available to suit your business model, including merchant cash advances and invoice factoring. This type of funding is more flexible than standard business bank loans, as well as being quicker to obtain.

Whether a lump sum is required, or a source of regular working capital, Begbies Traynor has contacts with over 50 alternative lenders around the country, and will work with you to ensure you apply for the most appropriate form of funding.

Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA)

A Company Voluntary Arrangement, or CVA, is a formal insolvency solution that may be suitable if you have previously been profitable, and have relatively predictable cash flow. Your business must be fundamentally viable, which will established by the appointed IP.

Two major benefits of this option are that interest and charges are stopped, and your creditors are prevented from taking legal action against you. As a director, you retain control of the company in the long-run, and are provided with the opportunity to trade your way out of financial trouble.

For more information on how to deal with the aftermath of the Tobacco Products Directive, call our experts at Begbies Traynor. We operate from 46 offices around the UK, and can offer you a free same-day appointment to discuss your situation in complete confidence.

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