Betta Living ceases trading

Oldham-based kitchen, bedroom and bathroom company Betta Living ceased trading on November 4 and has appointed an administrator.

The news first broke with a statement on its website, which read: “We anticipate the administrator will be appointed next week and will consider all options to try and secure the continuation of the business, but at present Betta Living has temporarily ceased to trade.”

Betta Living has now appointed Anthony Collier and Ben Woolrych of FRP Advisory LLP as joint administrators. They are reviewing the financial position of the company, while marketing the business and assets for sale.

When contacted for comment, Collier said: “We are currently working with all stakeholders to see if we can find a solution that rescues the business and would ask any parties interested in any aspect of the business to make contact as soon as possible. Betta Living is a business with a strong brand and is well known up and down the country.

“At present the business has however ceased to trade and orders are not currently being despatched. We will be reviewing the order book and writing to individual customers this week.”

Betta Living, which is owned by Dean House Limited (company number 1756859) – formerly Dean House Plc – revealed losses of £155,973 in 2014, compared with a profit of £1.6 million the year before. This was despite turnover increasing from £34.9m in 2013 to £46.4m in 2014.

The annual accounts for 2015 are yet to be filed.

Malcolm Scott, kbbreview columnist and commercial director of distributor Swift Electrical, argued that the downfall of the company may be due to a flawed strategy rather than market conditions.

“The failure of this 70-store kitchen multiple retailer at a time when Wren is expanding and Dream Doors is producing record results must in part be due to the business model,” he said.

“Many of the outlets are stores within stores and ‘pop-up’ stores in shopping centres with quite modest displays. This puts the retailer very firmly at the bottom end of the market and makes it difficult to attract those customers who want a lifestyle-changing kitchen. The 70% off selected items and ‘always low prices’ can be successful, just look at Wren, so the reason for the failure must surely have more to do with the ability to attract aspirational consumers than with the constant discounting policy. It may also show that the days of ‘door-to-door salesmen’ and direct sell within the kitchen sector are over and that, in fact, consumers want to see high-quality displays in a proper retail environment.

He added: “It will be interesting to see if those stores within the Betta Living Group, which were more traditional high-street kitchen stores, survive under new management – for the sake of the staff, let us hope some do. And let us all cross our fingers and hope that this does not develop into another deposit scandal. Meantime, you have to take your hat off to Wren, who never miss a business opportunity and are offering to honour any Betta Living quote consumers present to them.”

One of Betta Living’s biggest suppliers, Bacup-based KBB manufacturer JJO, said that it was “surprised and saddened” by the news. It accounted for less than 5% of its turnover.

JJO sales and marketing director John Pollitt said: “Our first concern is for the staff and management whose livelihoods are now uncertain so close to Christmas.

“When a customer ceases to trade, it is never good news. Betta Living was a long established and valued customer and their business will be missed. That said, the impact upon our business will be minimal. JJO operates a strategic policy of never being over exposed to one or more customers. This policy helped protect our business throughout the recession and is equally  important today.”

Bathstore chief executive Gary Favell has confirmed it has concessions in five Betta Living stores but has not been affected.

“As far as we’re concerned, we’re totally divorced from it,” he said. “We’ve got those stores as concession agreements and hopefully they can find a buyer to take it forward. It’s a decent business and obviously the administrator’s role is to see if they can find a solution for it. We’re only in five stores. It’s not particularly a big issue for us, other than the fact that we are in there trading, and we’re acting normally.”

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