Last week, it emerged the board of directors of Patisserie Holdings PLC (the parent company behind Patisserie Valerie) had apparently just become aware that its principal trading subsidiary Stonebeach Limited is subject to a Petition to Wind Up from HMRC, to the value of £1.14m.
It’s odd that the directors only discovered the notice last Wednesday. OpenCorporates has had the information since October 5th, since the publication in the London Gazette, and the notice was originally delivered to the company’s registered address on September 14th, seven days before the notice was published.
Six days after the publication of the gazette, the story broke, showing how a winding up order affects all stakeholders of a company. In bid to save the struggling chain, beneficial owner Luke Johnson loaned over £20 million to the holding company; £15 million in new shares were created and sold at budget prices; the Serious Fraud Office began to conduct their investigation, and 2,800 baristas, bakers, drivers and office workers returned to provide a precarious supply of kitsch french pastries, surrounded by uncertainty.
In a data-driven, frictionless world – one where what we purchase, say, read, listen to, like – is recorded as data, this situation is extraordinary. While logs of individual behaviour are being created, stored and sold for advertising by multinational corporations, we don’t have anywhere near the same amount of data about how companies behave.
OpenCorporates is changing this, by collecting records that are publicly available from across the world, and turning them into open, standardised data.
While surfacing this data alone won’t save Patisserie Valerie, or stop the misuse of companies, enabling better understanding of what companies do is essential. We’re currently working on Corporate Events, which will track the major events in a company’s lifespan – including credit events such as winding-up notices – enabling clearer, quicker understanding of what actually happens in a company. In order to do this, OpenCorporates is extracting events from government gazettes notices, and inferring from changes to official company registers, enabling you to keep track of changes to the public record about companies you care about. Doing this in one jurisdiction is tricky. Scaling it up to multiple jurisdictions is harder still.
One thing, however, is clear – this task would be made much easier if governments to be published more company information as data under an open data licence. Want to help us make it happen? We want to hear from you! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
EU Horizon 2020
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732003, euBusinessGraph, a project that aims to create a crossborder knowledge graph of companies, and a set of innovative business products and services build upon the knowledge graph.