In a development raising concerns for Britishvolt's future, the owner of the battery start-up, Recharge Industries, faces the possibility of bankruptcy proceedings. A former employee has taken legal action against Recharge Industries, seeking unpaid salaries and initiating a countdown for resolution.
Following the issuance of a statutory demand by the former employee, Recharge Industries has a 21-day window to settle the outstanding wages. Failure to meet this deadline could empower the former employee to commence insolvency proceedings against Recharge.
Reports from the Financial Times highlight statements from Recharge Industries' staff, indicating that owner David Collard had repeatedly assured employees of imminent new investment for Britishvolt.
Complicating matters, the rescue efforts for the British battery start-up and its planned cell factory in Northumberland encountered challenges in August. Documents from auditing firm EY, as cited by the BBC, revealed that Recharge Industries had not fulfilled the final payment installment of £8.57 million due on April 5, 2023, casting doubt on the entire deal.
Sources suggest that employees at Recharge believe Britishvolt might be “trading while insolvent,” alleging that salaries have gone unpaid for at least four months. EY, in response, stated it is pursuing the recovery of funds owed by Recharge, having conducted a comprehensive and competitive sales process.
Recharge Industries also faced setbacks in acquiring the designated land for the factory site in Blyth and would need substantial funds to realize the construction of the plant. According to the Financial Times, landholders are exploring new ownership options.
Of the approximately 26 Britishvolt employees who joined Recharge, most have since departed. David Collard has not immediately responded to requests for comments.
Britishvolt, initially slated to build a £4 billion car battery factory in the north-east of England, entered administration in January 2023 due to financial constraints. The project, once promising, was seen as crucial for the UK industry's connection to supply chains, as only Chinese company Envision AESC expressed plans to establish cell manufacturing capacity in Britain. Envision aims to construct a sizable battery factory near the Nissan plant in Sunderland, catering to Nissan and other automakers, including JLR. The Indian Tata Group, JLR's parent company, recently indicated considerations for building a British battery factory, aligning with the presence of JLR plants in England. Efforts are also underway to source lithium from Cornwall.