Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Anger as clan gathering firm goes into administration

people in kilts
The event is said to have generated more than 10m for Scotland

Business owners have voiced their anger after losing thousands of pounds in the collapse of the firm which organised a clan gathering in Edinburgh.

The Gathering 2009 Ltd, the company behind the centrepiece of last year's Homecoming celebrations, has gone into administration.

The owner of the firm, which owes about £300,000 to 50 companies in Edinburgh, said he was "bitterly disappointed".

The event is said to have generated more than £10m for the Scots economy.

The Gathering attracted 47,000 people from at least 40 countries.

But the event, which culminated with a clan parade along the Royal Mile and a pageant on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle, made a £600,000 loss.

We have paid our staff and suppliers but we have not been paid, which I am very angry and upset about
Neil McRobb
McRobb Display

The Scottish government agreed to £300,000 bail-out to cover costs such as policing and it had been hoped Edinburgh City Council would pay the other £300,000.

However, Edinburgh City Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "We regret that the council has been unable to find an acceptable way in which to help to resolve the company's outstanding commitments and to protect the Gathering brand for the future."

Neil McRobb, the owner of Leith sign-making firm McRobb Display, said he was angry and upset over losing £14,000 in the venture.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "We provided all the signs for the clan parade, with every clan having its own sign, flags, banners and toilet signs.

"We have paid our staff and suppliers but we have not been paid, which I am very angry and upset about.

"It was a job we wanted to be part of and were proud to be part of, and we did a good job - but the organisers didn't have a clue what they were doing.

"It was far too big a job and the government should have been keeping an eye on proceedings. The firm has been grossly incompetent.

"I took on the job because it was government-backed, so we should have been paid."

Stevie Olsson - the director of Edinburgh Showtec Ltd, which provided staff to erect fencing and tidy up after the event - said his company had lost £8,000.

'Bitterly disappointed'

He said: "I am annoyed because I keep reading in the press about what a success the event has been and how it made so much money for Edinburgh and Scotland, when so many small firms lost money out of it.

"I am also upset because the organisers must have known about this before now as these things don't happen overnight.

"Now it puts us in a difficult position of whether we should ask for money upfront in the future for other events so that this doesn't happen again to us."

Lord Jamie Sempill, co-owner of The Gathering 2009 Ltd, said: "We were ambitious in our objectives and in hindsight we would review every aspect of that.

"We had 5,000 visitors from overseas and wanted to make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.

"I am bitterly disappointed."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government did what we could to secure the future of The Gathering by not seeking to recover what we were owed by the company that ran the event. Other public sector creditors did the same."

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