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Lack of Capital Funds Clouds Bill the Butcher's Future

Seattle-based chain loses a major financial transaction. Nevertheless, its CEO says the company still plans to open its Edmonds store, as well as embark on a national expansion to California and Texas.

Last week, executives from Bill the Butcher were eager to share a major new announcement, one that would hasten the expansion of the Seattle-based meat shop.

It turns out the expected announcement of a significant sum of investor funding, which fell through, and the results of the company’s third-quarter earnings report released July 22, has put a damper on the company’s current outlook. It at least temporarily puts the future of its eastward march in limbo. That includes 120 to 150 stores west of the Mississippi, initially concentrating on California and Texas, and then Chicago. The expansion would “require substantial additional financing,” according to a required regulatory filing on July 20.

Bill the Butcher’s financial situation may also put up a temporary roadblock to its , as well as planned locations in Wallingford and Kirkland.

Just last week, Bill the Butcher told that it expected to be open by the end of August. The location, at Fourth Avenue South and Main Street, still has its logo on the front door.

The company, which sells organic and natural grass-fed meats, originally planned to open the Edmonds stores in February. But that was delayed when construction teams were transferred from Edmonds to work on the company’s commissary in Seattle’s Sodo district.

Bill the Butcher CEO J'Amy Owens remains optimistic. “The company plans on opening the Edmonds store very soon,” she told Edmonds Patch on Sunday, “as well as completing its planned expansion.”

However, the regulatory filing numbers spelled out a less-than-robust financial situation at this point in the company’s history. According to The Seattle Times, as part of the failed financial transaction the company had to take back 6 million shares it issued last month.

Bill the Butcher CEO J'Amy Evans told CEO/CFO last month that it was in its initial phase of financing, a figure she reported at $7.5 million.

According to The Times, the unsuccessful funding attempt is a “serious setback for the unprofitable six-store operation,” which ended its third quarter on May 31 with just $40,000 in cash. Its accumulated deficit was $3.7 million. Bill the Butcher’s net loss for the nine months ending May 31 was approximately $2.1 million, and the company says it expects to have additional losses in the near future.

Owens says the company will overcome its financial situation.

“In spite of our bumps in financing, our loss through operation was only $700,000, and the remaining loss was through stock issuance,” she said. “This is normal for a startup, and we have many other large capital offers which will assure our success.”

Bill the Butcher’s money troubles has decreased its stock value in half. It closed Friday at 40 cents, after being at 80 cents just last month.

The company summarized its situation in the SEC filing: “There is no assurance that we will realize the objectives of our efforts, both from an operating and financing perspective, certain of which are dependent on our receiving additional capital, and there is no assurance that such funding will be available. To the extent that additional resources are not received, or to the extent our management is not successful in executing on objectives for improving margins, then margins are not likely to improve. Further, in the absence of additional capital infusions, it is unlikely that we can continue to support our growth.”

Its financial situation isn't the first setback for Bill the Butcher, which says it sells only organic and natural grass-fed meats. It took a hit when the Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle, reported than none of the 18 certified organic beef ranches in Washington sold meat to Bill the Butcher.

Owens says the company published a book of all of its farms and vendors nearly a year ago. They are available in all six Puget Sound shops. “The farms are also clearly marked in all of our cases,” she added.

The farms and business are not listed on Bill the Butcher's website, however.

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