The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued a warning notice to Guinness Peat Group plc (GPG) stating that the sponsoring employers of its Coats UK Pension Plan were “insufficiently resourced” as at the end of 2012 and that it may have to issue a financial support direction. This follows two warning notices issued to GPG in 2013 in relation to the Brunel and Staveley pension schemes. The Coats scheme has a £148 million deficit while just 200 of its 27,000 members are active contributors. Textiles maker Coats is GPG's only remaining business.
GPG chairman Mike Clasper said that the new warning notice was extremely disappointing given that a recovery plan had been agreed with the Coats scheme trustees in 2013. He said the GPG board had submitted calculations to TPR showing “that all the sponsoring companies for the Coats plan were sufficiently resourced as at the relevant date”. GPG would defend its position vigorously, he added "taking into account the interests of shareholders, pensioners and the overall Coats business".
If negotiations are unsuccessful, a hearing before TPR's determinations panel will take place, though this is unlikely to occur any earlier than the first half of 2016. The panel is expected to hear GPG's appeal in relation to the Brunel and Staveley schemes during 2015.