Princess of Wales' parents sell Party Pieces in a rescue deal after the business collapsed into administration

18 May 2023, 15:46 | Updated: 19 May 2023, 09:31

Kate Middleton's parents have sold their party supplies business.
Kate Middleton's parents have sold their party supplies business. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

The Princess of Wales's parents Carole and Michael Middleton have sold Party Pieces - their party supply business - after it fell into administration.

The pair set up Party Piece Holdings in 1987 while they were seeking inspiration for Kate’s fifth birthday, but they sold the firm to Essex-based entrepreneur James Sinclair after months of speculation about the company's future.

Party Pieces Holdings, the parent company of the firm that once employed the Princess, had racked up a deficit of £1.35 million and the Middletons failed to find new investors or a buyer willing to take on the company with the entirely of the debt.

Instead, the firm was bought by Teddy Tastic Bear, one of several businesses owned by entrepreneur James Sinclair, through a device known as a pre-pack administration. This procedure allows an insolvent company to sell its assets without some of its liabilities before an administrator is appointed.

The sale comes just weeks after friends of the Middletons said the pair were planning to spend more time on “family, garden and travel”, according to the Daily Mail.

It is unknown what Mr Sinclair, who owns Teddy Tastic Bear Co Ltd, paid for the firm or how significant its remaining liabilities are.

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The Princess of Wales's parents attended King Charles's Coronation just 12 days prior.
The Princess of Wales's parents attended King Charles's Coronation just 12 days prior. Picture: Alamy

The entrepreneur’s website says he “operates a £30m business which includes leisure, childcare, outdoor attractions, commercial property, arts and crafts manufacturing as well as one of the UK's oldest ice cream companies; The Rossi Ice Cream Company”.

It is understood Interpath Advisory was appointed as administrator in court on Thursday morning.

The firm had a number of bidders, including leading family company Club Green, which also operates in the party goods sector.

Carole and Michael instructed Interpath to find a buyer for the company earlier this year.

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The pair conceived of the business as they were seeking inspiration for Kate's fifth birthday.
The pair conceived of the business as they were seeking inspiration for Kate's fifth birthday. Picture: Getty

The business was originally set up to help plan creative children’s parties, followed by a company expansion that resulted in the sale of party decorations, tableware and personalised gifts.

It first started in the Middleton family’s four-bedroom home in Bradfield, Berkshire.

Prospective bidders were reportedly informed that Party Pieces had shown “some recent UK performance contraction during international expansion and focus on margins”.

Reports allege the company was significantly impacted by the pandemic, but it wasn't until the last financial year that the accounts were filed due to more losses.

The sale comes just 12 days after King Charles’s Coronation, which Carole and Michael attended.

"Party Pieces is a well-established brand with a proud British heritage, but like many other companies across the retail space had been impacted profoundly by the restrictions on social gatherings," Will Wright from Interpath said.

Read more: Party Pieces to break America! Kate Middleton's mum launches family business in the US

The fall into administration comes less than a year after Carole launched Party Pieces in the US.

Photos posted to the company's Instagram account in October 2022 show Ms Middleton visiting shops in the US, viewing her range and chatting to customers.The products were featured alongside large posters of herself.

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