The agency – headquartered in Bromsgrove, near Birmingham, with an office in Brisbane, Australia – entered into administration on 5 July. Staff were left stunned by the sudden closure and have not been able to get hold of Manning since.
PRWeek heard the agency has debts of about £900,000 and Manning has not been contactable since it entered administration, including several attempts by PRWeek to ask questions about the situation.
The agency's leaders are being investigated by the PRCA’s Professional Practices Committee to see if the actions of its senior management had breached PRCA standards of conduct.
Sources with knowledge of the business told PRWeek, on the condition of anonymity, that the agency has been involved in an ongoing tribunal hearing with a former MD, and Manning would often take money out of the business for personal reasons.
This included using company money to buy kitchen appliances and televisions, as well as spending £13,000 on family flights to Australia just prior to the UK operations being shut.
The source alleged Manning used company money to fund work on a £500,000 extension to his family home, and on one occasion prioritised buying a new laptop and camera equipment for his own use instead of previously planned works to modernise the company boardroom.
The business also allegedly "failed to invest in staff wages, which were below industry standards, and used apprenticeships for cheap labour".
The source said the company hired a senior manager "who would treat staff like crap, but after complaints from numerous members of staff on countless occasions, management would side with the senior team and publicly discredit the staff who complained".
"Essentially I think [the closure] comes down poor money management and greed," the source added. "Also, the fact that he wasn't there to tell the staff he was closing down and after telling someone who'd stuck by him for nearly 10 years the week before that money was never better and that everyone’s job was safe."
PRWeek has tried calling and emailing Manning through Superdream's office contact details in the UK and Australia for a response to these allegations for the past five days, but to no avail.