Guest Blogger - Andrew Davies
A right bells up...
If brown is the new black and staying in is the new going out, then Homeform is the new MFI.
It's understandable why the sounding of the death knell for the Homeform Group and its Moben, Sharps, Dolphin and Kitchens Direct brands is ringing some particularly familiar bells for anyone caught up in the MFI debacle of a few years ago.
The difference this time is that, while devastating for anyone affected, its overall market impact in terms of immediate financial issues will be much less quite simply because most people learnt their lesson.
Suppliers in particular, Mark Two being the most apparent example, will have spread the risk much more and aren't anywhere near as reliant on individual buyers as they were on MFI. And secondly they would've had them on a much shorter credit leash than they were prepared to give MFI - no room for goodwill anymore.
Don't get me wrong, a lot of people will lose their jobs because of this situation, many working directly for Homeform and many for their suppliers, but it won't finish, or nearly finish, whole companies off like MFI did.
The real medium-term issue to tackle in the deflation of Homeform is the effect on the wider consumer confidence in losing yet another high profile kitchen, bedroom and bathroom retailer through financial mismanagement. If a company with brands the size of Moben, Sharps and Dolphin - with such a ubiquitous presence on every High Street - can go, then anyone can.
This unease, of course, isn't helped by the frankly diabolical way that it has gone about it either. Firstly, staff were told to just go home a few days before payday with no indication whether they'll see that month's wages. Secondly, fitters and installers haven't been paid for jobs completed, and many were, of course, halfway through projects inside customer's homes.
I've already heard several stories of fitters finishing the jobs out of pride and goodwill, even though they know they'll probably never get paid. Fair play to them.
Thirdly, and most importantly for consumer confidence, there are hundreds of people who have gone through the entire sales process, picked their products, discussed their designs, and then committed to the project by handing over a deposit - only to then be told that not only weren't they getting the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom, but they weren't getting their money back either.
And those deposits were being taken on the Wednesday before the administration was announced on Thursday.
If those customers paid that deposit on a credit card then they'll probably get it back, but that's hardly the point. This is a black time for the KBB industry, there are very few high profile companies leading consumer opinion in this area and one of them has just thrown a brick through whatever reputation it had managed to rebuild since the recession.
And independents will feel it most acutely, as every customer will now want to know how safe their deposit is and how likely they are to get the job finished once its started. Whether you're a big fan of multiples or not, I present this crude and pompous paraphrase of a classic poem:
No retailer is an island
Entire of itself
Each retailers' collapse diminishes me,
For I am involved in retailkind.
Therefore send not to know
For whom the bell tolls
It tolls for thee...
Andrew Davies is Editor of business magazine kbbreview
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7/6/2011 4:16:00 PMhomeform staffBy joan collins
as a former employee, it has ruined lots of lives, lots of upset and lots of grief to customers alike. Its totally unfair how this has happened and the staff at Moben, KD and Dolphin worked tirelessly for nothing for very little in return.... sad end to what could have been a bright future!!!!
7/5/2011 12:44:00 PMMoben do the right thing!!!!!By Suzy
As previously stated it is 12 days now since it was announced that Moben /Dolphin were going into administration.
Do the right thing and let the most important people know where they stand, your staff and customers.
Are we going to get what we ordered or paid if not tell us then we can put this farce behind us and move on.
Moben you know this ws coming yet you still took our money......face up to your errors.
7/4/2011 9:38:00 AMOrder Placed!By Andy Phillips
Well we placed our order with Sharps. As a previous customer we have always been happy with the quality and service received from Sharps. So I am pleased that things have turned a corner and good luck to all the staff.
7/2/2011 11:10:00 AMSharpsBy Anon
Have officially and succesfully negotiated the future survival of Sharps, having dropped Moben, Dolphin and Kitchens Direct. Moving forward into the future as a single brand showroom etc. Very exciting for Sharps (staff and customers)
6/30/2011 10:34:00 PMSharps OkBy Jimmy
Sharps Bedrooms is a good company; it's going to be Kitchens Direct that will be a thorn in it's side
6/30/2011 7:53:00 PMsharpsBy sharps designer and surveyor
Sharps are not in administration we have been put in a holding company until a deal is made to secure the future of the company which will be agreed soon. It is business as usual and we need the support of the customer to ensure that another major retailer does not vanish from the high street.
6/30/2011 11:10:00 AMSharpsBy anon
Are now Sharps bedrooms Ltd and continue to trade and make a profit as ever. No doubt the knockers will complain about this profit in years to come.......
6/30/2011 11:02:00 AMSharpsBy david
Sharps are still providing the best quality bedrooms and service as ever. Get behind this succesful company dont knock it. It has a loyal staff who pride themselves in what they do from design to fitting.
6/29/2011 11:29:00 PMSharps will be succesfulBy Anon
After being held back by the burden of 2 loss making companies (Moben and Dolphin) Sharps is free to put its money-made back into the company after years of bailing out the other two. Exciting times for Sharps and its customers. The profits made by Sharps over the last 3 years are substantial and provide a huge base to make the company a hugely successful one. Feel for the Homeform staff who have lost their jobs and hope they all find something soon - i've been there myself
6/29/2011 4:31:00 PMHomeformBy Dolphin Employee
As(an obviously bitter) employee of Homeform, having seen the appalling way the company has been managed for the past few years, would advise any potental customers of Sharps to steer well clear. I really cannot see them being successful in light of recent events.
6/29/2011 1:34:00 PMSharpsBy carol Andersson
As an employee, I think things are looking extremely positive for sharps. its all hands on deck and we are all working very hard to make it work. Sharps, products and fitting is the best in the industry.
6/29/2011 1:31:00 PMSharps bedroomsBy Sharps employee
Sharps management have assured us a Deal should be finallised later today. An we're working as usual.
6/29/2011 11:49:00 AMSharps/HomeformBy Editor
Andy Phillips: My understanding is that the Sharps bedroom side is - at the moment - unaffected, though the attempted sale of Moben and Dolphin is supposed to safeguard that division.
6/29/2011 11:40:00 AMSharpsBy Andy Phillips
My sincere apologies I should've pointed out it's a Sharps designer who is measuring up as I type. Is there any news on the Sharps bedroom side of the business. He informs me that the deposit is 10% by credit card and that the company is continuing to trade with an announcement expected later today. When trying to access the Homeform Group website it now automatically forwards to the Sharps website. But when we are talking about 2 bedrooms and a study I don't want to loose over a thousand pounds by making a foolish decision. If anyone else is in the same boat I would love to hear.
6/29/2011 10:52:00 AMwaitBy andy davis
i work for kd and i have heard a rumour(a strong one) that nobilia kitchens from germany are buying the kd brand..
give it a couple of days
6/29/2011 10:07:00 AMDesigner coming today!By Andy Phillips
We have a designer coming today! Would our deposit be safe if we paid by card, knowing the company is in administration? I feel sorry for the fitters and staff. By ordering would I be helping their cause or digging a hole for myself. What to do??
6/28/2011 9:30:00 PMFitter half way throughBy nicola astle
Two young children, half a kitchen fitted, no oven, no servicees,no sink, no washer, not all items delivered, know we're going to have to pay for fitter that was on site to do job privately. I know i'm going to have to worry about rest of delivery and claiming back after.