Kiltmaker to stars dismisses threat from HMRC move

A KILTMAKER to the stars today insisted there was “nothing to worry about” after the taxman submitted a winding up order in court.

Howie Nicholsby vowed to carry on trading, despite the ominous notice appearing in newspapers yesterday. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs lodged the order over an unpaid tax bill by Mr Nicholsby’s 21st Century Kilts business, and he now has eight days to respond to the move.However, the kiltmaker – who specialises in modern tartanware and has supplied kilts to celebrities such as Robbie Williams and actor Vin Diesel – said he was optimistic discussions with HMRC would lead to a prompt solution.

He told the Evening News: “We’re not going anywhere –I’m in the process of making a deal with HMRC. We are clearing funds for this as they become available.

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“It was unexpected and the wording used can be a bit unclear to the layman.

“We had a VAT guy come to see us in January and at that point we were talking to him about how to get it paid and he seemed happy with that. Now that’s getting done, and our customers have nothing to worry about.” Howie is the sole director of the firm and the latest accounts, filed in September last year, show it owed creditors £71,114 and had assets of £85,566.

Sources at HMRC said newspaper notifications were only placed as a “last resort”, and at times acted as much as a prompt as anything else.

They said they take tax bills seriously to “maintain a level playing field” for those who do pay their tax bills on time.

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If Mr Nicholsby, as part of the firm Howie Nicholsby Ltd, does not settle the bill – or reach a satisfactory compromise – within eight days, a provisional liquidator will be appointed to reclaim as much of the cash as possible.

Mr Nicholsby, 33, whose father Geoffrey works in the same industry with Geoffrey (Tailor) on the Royal Mile, opened 21st Century Kilts on Thistle Street in 2009. He wanted to break from the traditional family business and was growing tired of the “tartan tat” atmosphere of the High Street.

His family has been involved in a long-running feud with the Singh family, who run Gold Brothers, which dominates the Royal Mile with cheap tartanware shops. At the time he compared his modern kilts being placed beside older garments to “trying to sell a Porsche alongside a horse and cart”.

A spokesman for HMRC said: “It is our policy not to discuss individual cases for confidentiality reasons.”

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