Did B&Q tip BCT over the edge?

A source close to British Ceramic Tile (BCT) has suggested to kbbreview that B&Q was the “key customer contract” whose termination brought the 100-year-old Devon tile manufacturer to its knees.

A B&Q spokesman said: “It is standard practice for major businesses to review and refresh supplier lists to ensure that they continue to provide the best customer offering in terms of quality and value.

“Our aim is to run a fair, open and transparent process. Unfortunately, British Ceramic Tile Limited were not successful on this occasion.”

Last week, wall and floor tile firm BCT filed for administration in an unexpected move that shocked its staff and the industry. More than 300 employees immediately lost their jobs.

The firm, which has an 18-acre factory in Newton Abbot and was one of the biggest employers in Devon, blamed difficult trading conditions and the loss of a key contract for the closure.

Bathstore was one of BCT’s major KBB retail customers.

Bathstore chief executive Ian Herrett told kbbreview: “We were clearly disappointed that British Ceramic Tile have gone into administration and are upset for the great people that we have worked with, so closely, for so many years.

“We had some very exciting plans in place with them for the future. Our proactive conversations with the administrators have been very positive and Bathstore customer operations will be largely unaffected’.

Philip Stewart, contract sales director at the Alternative Bathroom Company Limited, which has three London showrooms, told kbbreview: “It was terrible news to read that so many people are losing their livelihood as a result of the loss of a single customer.

“Surely those responsible for the strategy of a company that allows itself to be solely dependent on a single customer should question their logic for allowing such a terrible thing to happen.

“I am fully aware that those of us reading the article have no idea of what has gone on to end up where 300 plus people lose their jobs overnight.

“One would wish that every possible avenue was explored. If that customer purely went with another supplier to make more profit at the expense of 300-plus people’s jobs, one wonders how the person that made that decision will sleep for the next few weeks knowing the full effect of their profit-chasing exercise.

“Surely there must be value in knowing that you contribute to putting food on the tables of hundreds of families?”

After the news, ex-BCT colleagues took to LinkedIn to offer kind words to each other and look for jobs.

HR boss Victoria Potter put out an urgent call to action on the business networking site to recruitment agents in a position to help former employees.

She said she may host a jobs fair in Newton Abbot on Wednesday, February 6, for those affected by the closure of BCT.

Alastair Massey, Tony Wright and Andrew Sheridan, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory, were appointed joint administrators of BCT on January 30.

In a statement, Sheridan said: “British Ceramic Tile Limited is a leading player in the manufacture of ceramic tiles, with a long-standing heritage in the local communities in which it operates and a stellar reputation for its quality products.

“Unfortunately, challenging trading conditions and the termination of a key customer contract have forced the business to enter administration and cease trading with immediate effect.

They are looking for a potential buyer.

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