Victorian Plumbing boss ‘hugely concerned’ over rival’s pre-pack deal

Mark Radcliffe, founder and CEO of Victorian Plumbing

Victorian Plumbing CEO Mark Radcliffe (pictured) says he is “hugely concerned for customers and suppliers” following the pre-pack administration deal that saw arch rival Victoria Plum sold to AHK Design.

In his statement he is also keen – for obvious reasons – to remind customers that despite the close similarity in names, the two companies are totally separate entities. 

“We are hugely concerned for customers and suppliers who will be left out of pocket, as well as their employees who now face uncertainty and instability,” Radcliffe says. “It was surprising to see how long they continued to take customers’ cash in the run-up to Friday evening given the inevitable outcome.

“We hope that this news doesn’t damage the industry’s reputation and impact strong and successful businesses that operate responsibly.”

Radcliffe also says that his company has spoken to some of Victoria Plum’s suppliers, many of which they share, and questions how those relationships were handled in the run-up to the deal.

“We wanted to be clear and remind our customers that we are an entirely separate business with no link whatsoever. As the UK’s largest bathroom retailer, we urge impacted customers to get in touch with our team who can help in assisting customers to finish projects and can recommend replacement items.”

There has been intense rivalry between the two companies for some time, in 2018 Victoria Plum received £1.75 million from Victorian Plumbing after winning a court battle over trademark infringement relating to online advertising and search.

Of the two, Radcliffe’s Victorian Plumbing was founded first, in early 1999. With its head office and main warehousing in Skelmersdale, it also has a showroom in Formby, just north of Liverpool.

Its status as the ‘UK’s largest bathroom retailer’ is taken from a report by market research company Mintel which makes them the biggest bathroom retailer by revenue. Victoria Plum claims to be the ‘UK’s largest online only bathroom retailer’ which, it is assumed, is validated by the existence of the Victorian Plumbing Formby showroom. 

Victoria Plum was founded in March 2001, then called Victorian Plumb, by brothers Jason and Shane Walker. In 2014, global investment firm TPG bought a majority stake in the company and then, in 2019, ownership of Victoria Plum changed hands, with Yorkshire-based private equity firm Endless LLP taking over. Then, on Friday last week, Endless called in the administrators and ownership passed to AHK Designs in a pre-pack deal.

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