A scrap metal merchants – which was the main sponsor of Wakefield Wildcats and Dewsbury Rams rugby league clubs – has gone bust with debts of £22m.
Ossett-based Eric France went into liquidation after a creditors’ meeting on Tuesday.
The company – rapped by advertising watchdogs in 2011 for some advertising posters featuring scantily clad women – has ceased trading with the loss of 18 jobs.
KPMG and pwc have been appointed as joint liquidators of JKL (Wakefield) Ltd, which trades as Eric France Metal Recycling.
A KPMG spokeswoman said that according to the directors’ statement of affairs, £21m of the company’s total debts of £22m relate to unpaid VAT.
David Standish, joint liquidator and partner in KPMG’s restructuring practice, said: “The company has ceased trading and unfortunately all 18 employees have been made redundant.
“The insolvency is due to significant historic debts owed to HMRC [Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs]. I would now welcome hearing from anybody with information about the company and I can be contacted at KPMG, 1 The Embankment, Neville Street, Leeds, LS1 4DW.”
A Wakefield Wildcats spokesman said: “It appears highly unlikely that Eric France Metal Recycling will be able to fulfil their commitment of a significant six-figure sum as the Club’s main sponsor.
“Whilst this is a hole to fill in the Club’s budget, the areas of sponsorship available are the most prestigious with main shirt sponsor, East Stand sponsor and the back of the playing and replica shirts, making it an attractive proposition to a number of companies.
“The Club is active in the market in its attempts to find a replacement sponsor and when such a time comes that this is achieved, supporters will be consulted about the range of replica merchandise that carries the Eric France brand.”
Eric France ran a controversial advertising campaign for a number of years. The campaign featured posters of scantily clad women which were plastered on billboards and on buses. In 2011 the Advertising Standards Agency ruled some were degrading to women and had no relevance to the advertised product.