UK Markets closed

Firm Behind Moben And Dolphin Collapses

(c) Sky News 2011

The company behind Moben kitchens and Dolphin bathrooms has gone into administration, forcing more than 550 staff out of their jobs.

Manchester (Frankfurt: A0ETDJ - news) -based Homeform Group, which also owns Kitchens Direct, called in administrators after the company suffered "significant difficulties" as trading slumped.

Administrators at Deloitte made 557 staff redundant but another 627 jobs have been saved after the group's Sharps Bedrooms business was sold after Homeform went into administration in a "pre-pack" deal.

Sharps Bedrooms was bought by a division of private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, which also owns Homeform.

It has also bought 96 of the company's 160 showrooms and concessions and a factory at Bilston in the West Midlands amid a massive downturn in the industry.

Kevin Smith, managing director of Sharps, said: "It's 100% business as usual for Sharps."

The Moben, Dolphin and Kitchens Direct businesses have now been closed, although the administrators still hope to sell the brands.

The sale will ensure that the 1,359 customers who have paid deposits worth £1.5m to Sharps Bedrooms will have their orders honoured by the new company.

But 453 customers who paid deposits worth a total of £1.5m to Moben, Dolphin and Kitchens Direct but did not pay by credit or debit card or take out a finance agreement are "unlikely to receive any refund".

A further 921 customers should be able to get refunds worth £2.6m from their credit or debit card provider.

Joint administrator Phil Bowers said: "The business has suffered from the extreme pressures currently hitting retailers of high value items, as customers shy away from big ticket purchases such as kitchen and bathrooms."

It is thought that about 1,500 self-employed fitters and designers also depended on Homeform for their livelihoods, and many of these are expected to get work with the new firm.

The company's collapse comes a year after celebrity designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen was appointed as an ambassador for Moben, Sharps and Dolphin.