STEVEN BROWN’S art empire has ended with all 21 staff made redundant as the company enters provisional liquidation.

The Ayr Advertiser understands that the company has been trading insolvent for some time, with staff told yesterday that it was all over.

A source has told how staff were called in on Monday, July 15 to be informed that the business was to cease trading and their jobs had been terminated.

And we can reveal that staff were told they would have to go through Government channels if they are to receive any redundancy pay.

A source said: “No wages are going to be paid. Some staff have known about this for some time but were not going to jump ship because of redundancy pay, but they are getting nothing now.

“They have treated the staff terribly.”

It follows a crisis meeting last week when staff were left in the lurch after being told that the business was not making any money.

We can reveal that the company was facing a losing battle with creditors and suppliers with an estimated £1.5 million owed out.

It’s understood that creditors were owed up to £1million, with suppliers also owed in the region of £750k.

Alleged reckless spending and poor management of the company’s finances are said to be factors in the collapse.

Last week the source said: “They are trading insolvent and they owe creditors a huge sum of money. What will happen is they will sell the IP (intellectual property), get a new company in and they can trade the business and basically shaft everyone else.”

Staff were told last week to clear their desks, and change passwords with an unknown business appearing to take over.

Despite this some staff were said to have known the end was in sight.

A source added:”This isn’t a shock for me. They kind of knew, the staff knew that the volume of sales had been coming down. There had been lay offs from Silverburn and the Gallery.

“They haven’t told the staff any of this. There’s a fan page that seems to know more than the staff.”

Despite last weeks crisis unfolding, Steven Brown Art told fans on Facebook that the store is just going through a refurb.

They added: “The bit that’s upsetting was to be told one thing, then to tell the customers something else. That’s the bit that caused the most upset because we were just lied to.”

It was confirmed on Monday that liquidators Tom MacLennan and Arvindar Jit Singh, partners with FRP Advisory LLP, have been appointed.

They confirmed that stock will be sold off, and staff were informed that they were to be let go.

Tom MacLennan, partner with FRP Advisory commented: “Steven Brown Art Limited became very well-known for its range of highly creative and engaging artwork based around the famous ‘McCoo’ brand.

“Although the company grew rapidly it had been suffering from serious cash flow problems and creditor pressure. As such the only option was to place the company in liquidation.

“We will now be selling all the remaining stock and would encourage interested parties to register their interest. We will also work closely with the Redundancy Payments Service and other agencies to minimise the impact on the staff affected by the closure of the business.”