An entity owned by Heather Mills has acquired the “assets” of the VBites plant-based business the entrepreneur launched in 2009.

VBites, which produces alternatives to meat, fish and dairy, appointed London-headquartered Interpath Advisory as administrator in December. The reasons cited for entering the process included cashflow problems, inability to raise new capital and a “softening” in consumer demand.

A deal was struck on 17 January for Mills to purchase the assets for £1m ($1.2m). According to a document provided to Just Food from Interpath Advisory, the transaction covers the brand name, intellectual property, and plant and machinery.

Vegan Solo Consulting, or the purchaser, “was selected as the preferred bidder as its offer represented the best overall outcome for creditors of the company in the circumstances”, Interpath Advisory noted in the document.

“The purchaser is a connected party as it is ultimately owned by Heather Mills, the majority shareholder of Seckloe (which is the majority shareholder of the company),” the administrator added.

For the year to 31 March, VBites generated sales of £7.7m but posted an EBITDA loss of £3.1m, according to the document. It had net liabilities of £1.7m.

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Interpath Advisory said “the company benefited from funding provided by the two secured creditors, Seckloe and NRH”, the latter being Nature’s Richness Holdings registered in Germany. As of the time of administration, the two parties were owed £4.8m and £2.5m, respectively.

All VBites’ staff had either quit the business or had been made redundant as the administration process was put in motion.

In a statement from Mills’ representatives, the entrepreneur said she “strongly believed that the next-generation technology that VBites had developed and the work it had done, still had a huge role to play in assisting the transition of the food market to a healthier and more sustainable place”.

She added: “I was also not happy being told that many of my loyal and hard-working staff were losing their jobs. I was cut out of everything.”

Mills discovered veganism in the early 1990s and in 2009 bought Redwood Wholefoods, which became VBites the same year. Prior to the administration, the company was operating out of three leasehold facilities in Corby, Northamptonshire, and one in Peterlee, County Durham.

“We agreed a rent-free period at the Peterlee property in the administration with the landlord (Duo Renovations Limited, also owned by Heather Mills, is the landlord at the Peterlee property) which was contingent on the transaction being executed,” Interpath Advisory said.

“This facilitated the continuation of trade and subsequent ability to finalise a sale. As a condition of the executable transaction with the purchaser, Seckloe has agreed to waive the entirety of its debt of £4.8m in the administration, considerably improving the overall returns to creditors.”

Mills said she had “chosen to resurrect the company myself, at great personal expense, and take control of the operations personally, moving back to the north east to ensure that we are still able to make a positive contribution to the future of our global food economy”.

She added: “We have already developed a version 2.0 of plant-based food, soon to launch, that we believe will be a market mover and will help all of those people attempting to make a flexitarian or plant-based/vegan transition achieve their goals more easily, both with variety and deliciousness.”

Speaking to Just Food last summer, Mills said VBites was poised to launch what she called the “next generation” of vegan foods, or “clean, innovative plant-based foods” that are friendly on the gut.

This publication has asked Mills’ team to clarify when production is due to restart and the status of VBites retail listings, along with details on recruitment.

Just Food has also sought to confirm the current standing of Pfeifer & Langen, the German business that took a 25% stake in VBites in 2021. The company had been a supplier of pea and other plant-based proteins to Mills’ operation and is also the owner of the Intersnack Group housing the brands KP and Tyrrells.