A prestigious awards event which honours Scotland’s highest achieving women have axed Bross Bagels founder Larah Bross from a finalist shortlist.

The move comes after a joint investigation by The Edinburgh Reporter/The Edinburgh Guardian revealed the hip Edinburgh sandwich chain is about to be liquidated with outstanding debts in excess of £1.2 million.

Bross Bagels owner Ms Bross had been celebrating the fact that her company had been named as one of the finalists in The Scottish Women’s Awards 2023.

The bagel business, which is being chased by His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for debts of more than £600,000, had been nominated in the Business of the Year category (less than 50 staff).

The awards claim to celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions of women across Scotland in various fields and each finalist has “demonstrated exceptional dedication, innovation, and leadership in their fields, showcasing the diversity and strength of talent present among Scottish women.”

On her social media channels, Larah Bross proclaimed earlier this week: “BUZZING for my BIZ. I could never do what I do without your endless support for my mostly creative but completely off the wall ‘biz ideas’.”

The self-congratulations came only weeks after Bross Bagels Limited petitioned Edinburgh Sheriff Court to be wound up and to have a liquidator appointed. The next day Ms Bross, who dubs herself “Mama Bross”, registered a new entity at Companies House which lists her as the sole shareholder of Hot Mama Bagels Ltd.

The sandwich group had earlier been threatened with being wound up by HMRC who were demanding Bross Bagels pay outstanding debts of £547,132 or agree a payment plan by 3 August – but our investigation has established that HMRC is the largest creditor with sums due of more than £625,000 out of debts totalling £1.2 million.

Ms Bross gave a “thumbs up” emoji to a Facebook poster who offered his commiserations to the other finalists in Business of the Year category, implying they were wasting their time.

The Canadian entrepreneur, who favours crass puns, added: “And above all I want to thank each and every one of you for accepting the ENDLESS AMOUNT of HOLE puns over the last 6 years which have definitely not ALL been funny. You guys are the best.”

Larah Bross – failed to make the cut in The Scottish Women’s Awards finals after financial woes revealed

A spokesperson for the awards organisers, Oceanic Events, told The Edinburgh Reporter: “After conducting thorough due diligence, we realised that the finalist does not meet the qualifying criteria, leading to the removal of the nomination from The Scottish Women’s Awards 2023.”

Founded in a small shop in Portobello in August 2017, the company’s Montreal-style bagels and quirky marketing and social media campaigns built up a strong following and in December 2021 the company opened the 1,200 sq ft Bross Deli at the St James Quarter, adding to existing outlets in Portobello, Stockbridge and Bruntsfield.

In October 2020 a so-called “Share Holer” crowdfunding initiative was launched to raise £250,000 to create a bakery and to extend wholesale operations and a second crowdfunding round last September sought to raise a further £125,000.

In return for a £1,000 contribution, Share Holer members would receive £100 in vouchers per year and invites to certain VIP events, with their money refundable after a four year period.

Our investigation has established that the total due to Share Holer creditors is more than £166,000 and that as “unsecured obligations” they will be near the bottom of the queue should there be funds available to pay creditors once the liquidator is appointed.

The Edinburgh Reporter has asked Bross Bagels for a comment.

  • Have you worked with Bross Bagels or been a supplier and have a story to tell? Get in touch: editor@theedinburghreporter.co.uk

The Edinburgh Reporter and The Edinburgh Guardian are founding members of The Scottish Beacon, a collaborative journalism project from independent community-based local news publishers.

+ posts

Stephen Rafferty is a former crime correspondent at The Scotsman and was a staff reporter for the Daily Record and Edinburgh Evening News. He has freelanced for many of the Scottish and UK national newspaper titles. Got a story? Get in touch - stephen@theedinburghreporter.co.uk

Website | + posts

Founding Editor of The Edinburgh Reporter.
Edinburgh-born multimedia journalist and iPhoneographer.