Courts store to close

ADMINISTRATORS of embattled furniture chain Courts are today searching for a buyer for its Ipswich store after it was revealed the Ranelagh Road outlet will permanently close.

ADMINISTRATORS of embattled furniture chain Courts are today searching for a buyer for its Ipswich store after it was revealed the Ranelagh Road outlet will permanently close.

KPMG Corporate Recovery has confirmed that the store is among 74 which will close after it agreed a deal with retail turnaround specialists SB Capital.

The deal will see SB Capital, an investor in Furnitureland and Land of Leather, paying an undisclosed sum to operate 14 Courts stores.

The remaining stores will be subject to a phased wind-down programme, which will be completed by February 20 next year.

It is not yet clear what will happen to Courts' Ipswich staff but KPMG said efforts are being made to find another retailer willing to purchase the store.

Courts Plc and Courts (UK) Limited's network of 88 stores were put under administration last month over the chain's £280million debts.

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The SB Capital agreement comes after no offer was made to purchase the whole chain as a going concern.

KPMG Corporate Recovery joint administrator Mick McLoughlin said: "In the circumstances this is the best result we could have achieved for the customers."

The administrators have also revealed 4,000 customers who paid in full for items which are at a Courts store or being held in warehouses will have their furniture delivered.

Ipswich customers were today offered the chance to air their grievances and discuss options to receive their furniture with the store's Ipswich staff and supervisors from SB Capital.

The doors of the Ranelagh Road store will be opened to the general public from 10am tomorrow.

Mr McLoughlin added: "All of the remaining customers who have made payments in full will receive their original order where possible.

"If this is not possible, they will have the opportunity to choose an alternative item of the same value.

"For those customers who have paid by deposit they will be offered an alternative item less 10% discount, whilst others will have a claim against their credit card companies."

However one Ipswich customer who paid £900 for two leather suites remains unconvinced she will ever receive her sofas.

Laura Harvey, of Magpie Close, said: "I don't hold out much hope that I'm going to get anything really."

She added: "If you've got to choose something else it will only be what's in the store, it's going to be very hard colour-wise or size-wise to get something you actually want."

Weblink: www.courts.co.uk

Are you a Courts customer affected by the financial crisis? Do you work at Courts? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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