Made.com, the online furniture retailer, collapsed into administration owing customers £17.1 million, new documents have revealed.
A report on the finances published by administrators at PwC has calculated that the company went bust owing a total of £186.6 million to unsecured creditors including about 12,000 customers and suppliers.
These include Google, Facebook and the operator of the group’s Antwerp warehouse. Thurrock council, which includes Tilbury docks where the company leased more than 500,00 sq ft of warehouse space, is owed £658,000, and Islington council is owed £110,000.
PwC has said it only expects to pay out 1.6p in the pound to those creditors after satisfying Made.com’s main lender, Silicon Valley Bank, and its preferred creditors, which include employees and HM Revenue & Customs, which is owed £3.6 million.
PwC said: “We know that this will seem unfair to many customers who placed orders in good faith expecting them to be delivered. We would advise anyone affected to check their debit and credit card purchase protection agreements. We are sharing information with a major merchant services provider, enabling them to process refunds.”
Bankers running the ill-fated float of Made.com received about £10 million in fees when it floated on the London stock market, heralded as the future of furniture retail with a valuation of £775 million. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Liberum Capital shared the payout when they assisted with the initial public offering in June last year.
About 4,500 items already manufactured and shipped before the firm’s collapse are expected to be delivered.
Customers have been encouraged to seek payment for goods that will not be delivered by making a claim with their credit or debit card provider rather than relying on a payout from Made.com’s administration.
Next has acquired Made.com’s brand and websites for £3.5 million, but hundreds of the sofa retailer’s employees have lost their jobs.
Nicola Thompson, who was chief executive when the company collapsed this month, said the brand was “much-loved” but that the economic environment that had helped it grow during the pandemic subsequently vanished.
Customers who paid by credit card for an item worth more than £100 can claim the money back from their lender under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Debit card users may be able to make a claim under chargeback by contacting their debit card provider and giving details of the transaction to be refunded.
Made.com performed well during the pandemic as families stuck indoors tried to improve their homes, and were unable to shop in stores. But this success unwound as pandemic restrictions eased.
Brent Hoberman, one of Made.com’s co-founders, has criticised the company’s management team for changing its business model. He said it was wrong for executives to pour investment into achieving high stock levels as customer demand started to decline.
In their report, PwC’s administrators said: “Like many retailers, but in particular those selling ‘big ticket’ products, the company has been heavily impacted by the significant decline in consumer spending from cost of living pressures, rising import costs and continuing supply chain pressures.
“These challenges have adversely impacted the company’s financial performance, and as a result the availability of cash to fund working capital and operations has depleted over time.
“The directors explored numerous options to try and turn the business around including seeking new investment and refinancing options, and a sale of the business through a formal sale process. However, despite their best efforts, all interested parties withdrew their solvent offers.”