Date: 26th April, 2018

Heighway Pinball, the pinball design and manufacturing business based in Ebbw Vale in South Wales, has closed the doors on the factory, laid-off the employees and is facing liquidation.

The Heighway Pinball factory in Ebbw Vale, South Wales
The Heighway Pinball factory in Ebbw Vale, South Wales

The four Directors of the company – Mats Daniel Janson (a.k.a. Daniel Janson), Cato Paus Skrede,  Alexander Thomas Spohr, Johan Patrik Tenn (a.k.a. Patrik Tenn) – who also formed the Pinball Brothers company, have today called a meeting of creditors of the company with the intention of appointing a liquidator.

A liquidator will assess all the company’s assets and liabilities, and attempt to sell those assets in order to realise their maximum value.

Meetings of Creditors

HEIGHWAY PINBALL LIMITED

(Company Number 08087382)

Registered office: Midway House Herrick Way Staverton Technology Park Staverton Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL51 6TQ

Principal trading address: Unit 35, Rassau Industrial Estate, Rassau, Merthyr Tydfil, Ebbw Vale NP23 5SD

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the directors of the company are convening a virtual meeting of creditors to be held on 4 May 2018 at 11.30 am, for the purpose of deciding on the nomination of a liquidator.

Creditors can access the virtual meeting as follows: Contact Mark Hunt

In order to be entitled to vote creditors must deliver proxies and proofs to 11 Roman Way Business Centre, Berry Hill, Droitwich, Worcestershire WR9 9AJ by 12 noon on the business day before the day of the meeting.

NOTE: the meeting may be suspended or adjourned by the chair of the meeting (and must be adjourned if it is so resolved at the meeting).

Further information about this case is available from Mark Hunt at the offices of MB Insolvency on 01905 776 771 or at markhunt@mb-i.co.uk

It is not clear yet whether this is a Members Voluntary Liquidation (MVL) in which the proceeds of the sale of the assets would go to the owners of Heighway Pinball, or a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) in which it is the creditors who receive the proceeds.  If Heighway Pinball is solvent (i.e. its assets exceed its liabilities) then it would probably be an MVL, but if the liabilities exceed the assets (as would seem likely in this instance), then it would be a CVL.

If it does prove to be the latter, then it is often the case that the value of the assets is significantly less than the liabilities, meaning creditors get either only a partial payment on their owed debt, or none at all. Those creditors will likely include everyone who paid a pre-order deposit or handed over the full cost directly to Heighway Pinball without receiving their game, parts suppliers owed payment, employees owed wages, distributors owed games, parts or refunds, the landlord of the factory, and of course HM Revenue & Customs (the UK’s tax authority) who will receive priority in any liquidation pay-out.

Curiously, the Pinball Brothers company was formed when the new Directors took control of Heighway Pinball and it seems to have been the business through which parts and equipment was purchased.  The company listing describes If that is the case, then those and other assets may already have been reclaimed and wouldn’t form part of any liquidation of Heighway Pinball.  If the licences were also part of that arrangement it would allow Pinball Brothers to use those parts and equipment to manufacture Alien or future licensed titles for which designs already exist such as Queen Live or Playboy elsewhere and under a new brand.

The future of Heighway Pinball has seemed in doubt for some time.  Founded in 2012 by Andrew Heighway at his home in Merthyr Tydfill in South Wales, the company soon moved into their first factory unit and built the Bacardi Baffle Ball game which provided operating capital to help develop their first full-size pinball.  That started out as Circe’s Animal House but was later rethemed before production to become Full Throttle.  Sales were limited which meant, as they moved to a second factory, that the future of the company rested on the success of their second title, the much-anticipated Alien.

Delays due to design changes, the non-availability of parts and problems with the mechanical devices meant the game was late to market and suffered reliability issues.  Spares and support were both hard to come by, and the money from game sales and pre-orders began to run out.  New investors were brought in – including, but not limited to, the current Directors – and the company moved again to a newer, better-equipped factory in Ebbw Vale.  Staff turnover at Heighway Pinball had always been relatively high, but the move 20 miles from the original base further accelerated the flow of key team members out of the business.

In June last year, Andrew himself left the business he began, handing it over to the team of investors to try to get the finances and the company’s reputation back on track.  While there were promises to rebuild customers’ trust and be far more communicative, those both soon faded as the scale of the problems became apparent, with information and support both drying-up.

While a trickle of Alien games was leaving the factory, ultimately the sales numbers were too low to make the business a viable operation in its current form, and the investors have apparently decided to pull the plug, with today’s announcement and the closure of the factory.

The exact state of the company’s finances will become clearer at the meeting on 4th May, but it is of note that the Directors intend to apply for insolvency rather than the more common route of administration, where an Administrator is appointed to try to turn the company around or sell it as a going concern.  This suggests the Directors believe they have done all they reasonably could to save the business.

Whether a new company will be formed to realise Heighway Pinball’s potential and capitalise on the designs, licences and assets they had built-up for their future games, we will have to wait and see, but this does seem like the final nail in the coffin for Heighway Pinball as we know it.

Pinball News will keep you informed about the outcome of that meeting and any additional details we uncover.  We did contact the Directors and investors of Heighway Pinball to ask for their comments but have received no reply so far.  If that changes we will update this article accordingly.

We did, however receive a message from former company head, Andrew Heighway.  In it he expresses his regret at the liquidation proceedings taking place, the likeliehood that pre-orderers will lose their money, and the unrealistic timeframes he promoted during his time in charge.  Here’s his message:

I am truly sorry to hear about the turn of events announced today.

In June 2017 I sold my controlling stake in Heighway Pinball Limited – including its commitments and liabilities – to a group of investors who claimed to want to put significant funds into the company, achieve mass production and deliver part-paid and fully-paid games to customers, as well as new machine sales.

Throughout the five years that I ran the company, we developed and sold games up until the time of my departure. This was never a ponzi scheme, as some have suggested. A mix of technical problems, supplier quality problems and unrealistic timeframes resulted in delays that financially crippled the company. We were all committed to delivering games to all paying customers. I personally apologise for the unrealistic timeframes.

There have been suggestions that I stole or diverted company funds for my own ventures. These are very serious accusations and never once have I been interviewed by the police for any alleged wrongdoings. The company’s accountants have never suggested any wrongdoings by me. It can be proven that the company owed me significant monies and not the other way round. I would therefore advise people to refrain from making any libellous or slanderous statements about me – as I will defend myself and my integrity.

I very much regret that the company’s owners have closed the company without honouring its commitments to all paying customers and I wish everyone the best in pursuing their claims against the investors or via the insolvency practitioners.

This situation has appalled me and I am extremely sorry for the anguish that it will inevitably cause.

 

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One Comment

  1. Brett Pearce

    April 27, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Alien is a great design and a awesome game to play as well as the best looking game for any SCi Fi game ever made. Hope it gets made in the future somehow because it is such a beautiful machine with awesome toys and features.

    Reply

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