Just 12 months ago Made, the online furniture business who seemed to have got it so right selling indoor and outdoor furniture to a young following, was valued at about £725 million. Ning Li, who founded the company with Brent Hoberman and Chloe Macintosh, criticised the recent direction of the business, saying that the management had got it all wrong. Potential purchasers being pursued by PwC, the Administrators, seem to agree, as none of them have their hands anywhere near their pockets.
This is a tough climate in which to raise funds for what seems like a busted flush of a furniture manufacturer and retailer, or to attract interest from possible buyers.
"Not a sniff", is what a spokesperson from PwC might have said in answer to the question: "How is the sale of Made going?"
Trading in Made.com's shares was suspended yesterday (Tuesday 1 November) and about a third of the company's 700 employees are staring in the face of redundancy as the process has started with a vengeance.
The brand seemed to be surfing the wave of online furniture sales as it led the way out of big showrooms witha snazzy website and a contemporary offering. But it seems that people are not looking to replace their sofas and add a side table if they cannot afford to heat the rooms in which they would be placed. It is a sign of the times you would read on the clocks Made.com used to sell, before they stopped selling. The retailer aims to fulfil orders it has already received but is not offering refunds at this stage. Made had "got caught with massive inventory at just the wrong time", co-founder Brent Hoberman said. It is a regular message and one we will report again and again at the NTI newsroom as winter starts to bite.
In other news, William Morrison Supermarkets said today that it will close 132 lossmaking McColl’s convenience stores that it bought this year, putting about 1,300 jobs at risk. The chain was rescued in May by Morrisons, which beat the owners of Asda - one of NTI's favourites, the Issa brothers, and TDR Capital, the private equity firm - to seal the deal. "Hoorah!" shouted relieved employees at the time. "Our jobs are now safe." We are afraid not. Morrisons have said that most of the stores would be shut by the end of the year, although 55 that also contain a Post Office would remain open until 2023.