EXCLUSIVE: BCT retailers ‘left in dark’ over administration

Retail partners of British Ceramic Tile (BCT) have claimed the company failed to inform them directly that it had gone into administration on January 30.

Kbbreview spoke to three retailers: one who was informed by text by a distribution rep, the other sent an e-mail by a receptionist after failing to get in contact with the supplier rep for several days, and another by the kbbreview newsletter.

Paul Branch of Abbeygate Tiles and Bathrooms in Bury St Edmunds, who had worked with BCT for 10 years, heard the news via text by the distribution rep at lunchtime on January 30.

He told kbbreview that he had suspected BCT was in trouble as there were rumours spread around retailers about the state of the company. However, he said that the reps were still hitting targets and order books were being filled.

Peter Higgins, owner and director of PJH Bathrooms, Kitchens, Bedrooms and Tiles, near Spalding, reported a similar situation, he said: “The reps were all saying that they are hitting all their targets or we are doing well etc. But at the same time, they were off loading perfectly good tiles at silly prices, which was great for us and our customers.”

Subhash Modasia, owner of Ipswich Bathroom and Tile Centre worked with BCT for 28 years and said the BCT area sales manager hasn’t come into store to visit. “Lately there has been no area sales manager coming around to update me,” he said. “As an independent retailer, the ASM is supposed to come around and inform us about how the company is doing. Recently, there has been no one coming around.”

On the day the administration was announced, Modasia rang BCT with a customer query and no one picked up the phone. He then sent a message on Monday to a generic BCT e-mail address ([email protected]) and got a response from reception that told him the company had gone into administration.

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“I think that it is a very difficult situation for everyone at BCT and I can understand that, for the people that work there, and the management. When everything was agreed, it would have been good to send out some kind of press release or just tell us,” said Modasia.

“From my business’s perspective, I’m not at all pleased, as BCT has a dedicated space for its products in my showroom and I have spent time, money and effort to display them, which was on the basis on continuous supply.”

Higgins first heard of the administration in a kbbreview breaking news e-mail His rep did phone the team on February 3 to confirm the situation and thank PJH for its custom.

“It is down to the administrators now – to not only find a buyer, which would be absolutely brilliant, but to also take care of the ex-employees,” said Higgins. “We would love to see them come back out of the ashes as Phoenix Tiles.” PJH has been working with BCT since the 1970s when the company was Candy Tiles.

Sources have suggested that BCT’s collapse may have been down to B&Q terminating a key customer contract.

“It has to be an open book about why they have got into this situation,” said Higgins. “They say that they lost one major retailer, but that strikes me that there is just one customer holding all your eggs in one basket, but you shouldn’t do. There should have been more to fall back on if one goes out of the nest.”

Despite the situation, Branch remains optimistic and said: “We will not really suffer and it is not a huge deal as a lot of other suppliers are ready and willing to fill their shoes.”

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