More than 300 job losses as some customers accuse furniture chain of taking online orders it knew it would be unable to fill
Angry consumers took to the internet to vent their feelings after the upmarket furniture chain Dwell collapsed on Thursday, leaving 300 staff jobless and hundreds of customers and suppliers out of pocket.
However, as late as this Wednesday evening it was still taking orders through its website. On Thursday 300 staff were told there was no work to go in for, and the 23 stores, mainly in London and the south-east, were shut. The company says the website and stores are closed and will no longer take orders, and no further deliveries will be made.
Customers flooded the firm’s Facebook page demanding refunds on their placed orders and accusing the company of taking their money despite knowing it would be unable to fulfil orders.
One customer, Graham Hills, wrote: “If these guys have gone bust the least they could do is put a message up on their website stating where we stand. How they sleep at night taking people’s money when they can not fulfil orders I don’t know. Also why lie about refunds? I have been waiting a week for my money to hit my account.”
Nick Pettigrew, another customer, wrote that a staff member had helped him recently and was professional. “But sadly, dealing with such a two-bit, dreadfully-run, company she was basically a very willing sailor with a bucket trying to bail out the Titanic.
“I managed to get three of the four items I ordered. It’s typical of you as a company that the one item I didn’t receive (and I don’t suppose now I ever will) was the most expensive one.”
Dwell had talks with a handful of interested parties last week, including the founder, Aamir Ahmad, who stepped down as managing director in November after renegotiating the company’s debts with lenders.
However, all the potential rescuers walked away and the company was forced to shut as administrators from Duff & Phelps prepared to take over.
A Dwell spokesman said: “The business had been working with its advisers to secure further working capital and was actively in the process of talking to a number of interested parties who saw the value of the Dwell brand and product, its customer base and its multi-channel proposition.
“However, despite this interest it did not progress. As a result we have been left with no option but to close the business with immediate effect.”
Suppliers have also been affected by the collapse, with virtually no chance of receiving any outstanding payments. Sarah Lidwell-Dumin, a supplier, said she was owed £10,500 by Dwell after her business, Natural History, whose customers include Liberty and Harvey Nichols, supplied the firm with 400 patterned cushions, which sold for £60 each.
She said: “I received the order in January and delivered in six weeks, but the invoice was never paid. Every time I spoke to them they said it had to be authorised and then started saying it would be in my account by the end of that day, but it never arrived. Eventually I took them to court over non-payment and won last week, but because of this I’m told I probably won’t get my money.
“It’s devastating. We’ll survive, but only because I’ve had to dip into my personal savings, which means for me and my family we’ll have to make some sacrifices.”
Latest accounts for Dwell, which started life in Balham, south London, in 2003, showed a pre-tax loss of £675,320 in the year to 27 January 2012.
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