Awesome Merchandise in Leeds has been sold to a new limited company set up by Awesome’s co-founder after the business was hit by Covid-19 restrictions.

Awesome Merchandise Ltd was placed into administration last week and its assets and 94 staff transferred to a new company, Group Limited, headed by the original company’s co-founder, Luke Hodson.

Incorporated in 2009, the business offered garment decoration and other print services, with a specialism in the music and events sector which was severely hit during the global pandemic.

Howard Smith, joint managing director at financial advisory business Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, said: “Awesome Merchandise is a bespoke business with strong B2B relationships across the music industry which, unfortunately, like many other companies, experienced significant financial challenges as a result of Covid-19.

“We’re delighted to have completed this transaction which secures the future of the business as well as safeguarding the jobs of 94 employees working out of the head office in Leeds.”

Nick Holloway, also joint managing director at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, added: “We are pleased to have agreed this transaction which ensures continuity of service for Awesome Merchandise’s customers and, importantly, safeguards a number of jobs.”

Interpath Advisory said that “significant efforts [were made] to secure a solvent solution for the business” but the company’s directors “concluded it was in the best interest of creditors for the company to be placed into administration”.

In 2018, Awesome Merchandise raised £654,000 from 1,064 investors via crowd-funding platform Crowdcube, which helped support its expansion including the launch of a factory in Austin in Texas.

Equity investors such as those through Crowdcube do not get listed as unsecured creditors as part of the administration process which means they do not receive any money.

Luke posted on the Crowdcube website: “I am deeply sorry that I was not able to carry Awesome Merchandise Ltd and its investment from the Crowdcube community to a successful exit or return on investment.

“Many investors big and small are close friends and family. Many others are long-term customers, partners and suppliers.

“Awesome Merchandise Ltd has been the almost sole focus of my life for 17 years. There are a lot of factors that contributed to the administration and a more detailed report will be made by the administrators.

“Despite what is being said, I didn’t simply ‘buy back’ the company with my own funds.

“Over the years, other than the Crowdcube raise, nearly everything generated by Awesome has been re-invested into the business.

“The UK business in reality saw virtually £0 of the Crowdcube raise because it was profitable and self-sustaining pre-pandemic.

“The funding for the new company came externally from family after every other avenue had been exhausted.

“I am extremely grateful that my family helped at the last minute to give a chance for me to continue working in an area I am passionate about and I believe I have helped benefit the UK print and creative markets on the whole. The belief my family has shown, ultimately has helped to save over 90 people’s jobs.

“The deal that has been done had to go through a lot of diligence and external auditing, it met the requirements set out by law. This was the last type of deal or option left open.”