Freshlocal Solutions Inc. (TSX:LOCL) ("Freshlocal") and various related entities (the "Freshlocal Group"), a group of organic grocery companies, were granted protection under the CCAA on May 16. The Freshlocal Group’s core business consists of: a) an online organic grocery store with 2 physical locations in Vancouver, British Columbia operating as Spud or eGrocery; b) traditional brick and mortar organic grocery stores in Alberta operating as Blush Lane Organic Market; and c) a software tool for businesses with online grocery operations operating as Food-X or the eGMS Platform. As a developer of business-to-business technology, the Freshlocal Group requires continuous access to investor financing, and has historically been able to access capital through the capital markets, convertible debenture private placement offerings, borrowing and various grants. Prior to the CCAA application, the Freshlocal Group raised bridge financing, but the bridge facility was not sufficient to avoid the need to commence formal insolvency proceedings. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant challenges, including global supply chain and labour shortages, for the group. EY was appointed monitor. Counsel is Bennett Jones for the Freshlocal Group, BLG for the monitor, and Aird & Berlis for Silicon Valley Bank. Third Eye Capital is the DIP lender. By Dina Milivojevic
Gateway Market Canada Inc., Tobmar Investments Inc. and Tobmar Investments International Inc., which jointly operate a franchise system of approximately 150 convenience stores, bakeries and lottery booths across Canada, each filed an NOI on April 19. The majority of the companies’ stores are located in Ontario and operate under the “Gateway Newstands” brand, and most franchisees are owner/operators. The COVID-19 pandemic severely challenged the companies’ viability. Franchisees were forced to close down their locations for prolonged periods of time, and foot traffic remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels when stores were permitted to open. This led to, among other things, a steep decline in sales, a reduction in revenues from supplier payments, and an inability by franchisees to honour their lease obligations. Despite being able to reach and renew a forbearance agreement with TD Bank on several occasions, and despite having reached temporary accommodations with most major creditors, including landlords such as the TTC, the companies were not able to continue operating without fundamentally restructuring their collective affairs and indebtedness. Albert Gelman is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Dale & Lessmann for the companies. By Dina Milivojevic
2519920 Ontario Inc., a Toronto, Ontario-based franchisor of a series of dry-cleaning retail stores under the names "Dove Cleaners" and "Flair Cleaners", filed an NOI on February 9, listing approximately $4.3 million in liabilities, including approximately $4.1 to TD Bank. Prior to the pandemic, the Dove Cleaners brand was successful, and the company was profitable. However, the pandemic had a catastrophic impact on the company’s business operations, with the volume of business significantly decreasing to a fraction of what it had been. This was likely due to the fact that many people were working from home and were wearing more casual clothing, and thus, their dry-cleaning needs were much less. Crowe Soberman is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber for the proposal trustee. By Dina Milivojevic
Sri Ayyappan Ltd., Thirukumar Pararajasingam and Bhaheswary Thirukumar, who own an operating gas station that includes a convenience store and a restaurant in Milton, Ontario, had a receiver appointed over their business assets on January 14, on application by RBC. RBC extended various loans to the debtors, all of which became due and payable towards the end of 2020. The parties then entered into a forbearance agreement which expired on April 29, 2021. The debtors argued that the receivership application was premature because they had entered into agreements of purchase and sale for the gas station and an adjacent residential property. Justice Conway concluded that there were numerous conditions to the transactions that made it highly unlikely that they could close any time soon and granted the receivership order. Spergel (GRIP) was appointed receiver. Counsel is Chaitons for RBC. By Dina Milivojevic
Coast to Coast Sunglasses Inc., a Montréal, Québec based retailer of optical products, was placed in receivership on January 10, on application by Caisse Desjardins de Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie ("Caisse Desjardins"), owed over $7.5 million. The company began having liquidity issues in 2020. However, the extent of the issues was not known to Caisse Desjardins until 2021, when it learned that the company had made practically no sales since the spring of 2021 and that the accounts receivable appearing in the company's interim financial statements were not accurate, since amounts characterized as “accounts receivable” were actually goods that had been delivered to customers on consignment. As a result, the actual value of the company’s current receivables is practically nil. PWC was appointed receiver. Counsel is Janson Larente for Caisse Desjardins. By Dina Milivojevic
HockeyShot Inc., a Mississauga, Ontario-based online specialty retailer of hockey training equipment, was placed in receivership on January 6, on application by Pivot Financial I Limited Partnership, owed approximately USD $1.1 million and CDN $2.5 million. After suffering operating losses and liquidity issues in 2021, the company engaged Welch Capital Partners to assist it to find a potential investor or buyer. These efforts were unsuccessful, and Pivot declared the entire amount of the loan due and payable on December 17. PwC was appointed receiver. Counsel is Chaitons for Pivot, Torkin Manes for the company and DLA Piper for the receiver. By Dina Milivojevic
YA-SEEN 19 ENTERPRISES INC. o/a Buck or Two Plus!, a Mississauga, Ontario-based franchised retail dollar store, filed an NOI on November 19, listing $180,000 in secured liabilities and $272,000 in unsecured liabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic and competition from a nearby rival dollar store resulted in reduced revenue and constricted cash flows. As a result, the company found itself unable to purchase inventory and fell into arrears for occupation rent with its landlord. BDO is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Keyser Mason Ball for the company.
6106234 Manitoba Ltd. (o/a The Pas Home Hardware), a hardware store located in The Pas, Manitoba, was placed in receivership on October 29 on application by RBC, owed approximately $1.2 million. RBC has been providing credit to the company since 2013. In 2020, the company began experiencing financial difficulties and defaulted on its obligations to RBC. The parties entered into a forbearance agreement that was subsequently extended on two occasions, such that the agreement expired on August 31, 2021. In September, the company advised RBC that it was unwilling to enter into a further extension. In early October, the company ceased all business operations and closed the doors to the store. Deloitte was appointed receiver. Counsel is Taylor McCaffrey for RBC.
The Bridal House, an Edmonton, Alberta-based bridal boutique, filed an assignment in bankruptcy on September 10. In a message on its website, the company, which had served Edmonton area brides for 27 years, cited the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shutdown of non-essential businesses and limited retail capacity as the reasons for its filing. Faber is the bankruptcy trustee.
Ben & Tournesol Ltée, Westmount, Quebec-based gift shop, filed an NOI on September 9, listing approximately $300,000 in liabilities. MNP is the proposal trustee.