Harborough MP steps up his bid to establish why a major Harborough furniture store is being forced to shut

As we have reported, the collapse of the Furniture Loft has affected up to 400 angry customers

By Red Williams
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 5:27 pm
The collapse of the Furniture Loft has affected up to 400 angry customers
The collapse of the Furniture Loft has affected up to 400 angry customers

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is stepping up his bid to establish why a major Market Harborough furniture store is being forced to shut.

The Conservative MP has alerted both Leicestershire Trading Standards and the Government’s Insolvency Service after the Furniture Loft has collapsed – hitting up to 400 angry customers.

Mr O’Brien is also urging shoppers across Harborough caught up in the firestorm to go to the Citizens Advice consumer service to raise their concerns with them.

But Furniture Loft owner Richard Kimbell, 75, today told the MP through the Harborough Mail – come and talk to me face to face.

The latest twist in the saga has come about after the Riverside industrial estate outlet emailed shocked customers on Friday June 17 to say they were ceasing to trade and couldn’t fulfil their orders.

The stricken business, which opened in 2016, told shoppers to claim back any money they’d already handed over from their card provider.

Today Mr O’Brien told us: “On the back of the recent stories in the Press surrounding the Furniture Loft, I’ve continued to receive a number of emails from constituents who are understandably concerned about their orders, some of which go into thousands of pounds.

“I’m very sympathetic to the concerns that have been raised with me, which is why I’ve contacted the Insolvency Service and Trading Standards on this, so they can look into this fully and thoroughly.

“It is important for people to be told exactly what has happened here, how this has happened and what it means for their orders and money spent in good faith,” he said.

“So I welcome the confirmation from the Insolvency Service that details have been shared with their Compliance and Targeting team.”

Mr O’Brien is also encouraging customers to seek more advice from Citizens Advice service specialists here: https://www.neilobrien.org.uk/news/furniture-loft-orders

An Insolvency Service senior technical adviser has told the Harborough MP: “I have passed your email to our Compliance and Targeting team so that they can take your concerns into account should Furniture Loft Limited enter formal insolvency proceedings.

“If Furniture Loft Limited enters into administration or liquidation, any affected constituents should raise their concerns with the office holder appointed so the office holder can take their information into account when considering any action for the benefit of creditors and when reporting to the Insolvency Service.

“Your constituents can find more information about the work of the Insolvency Service at: www.gov.uk/insolvency-service/investigation-enforcement”

Richard Kimbell, who set up the Furniture Loft six years ago, told us this afternoon: “I’ve got to repeat again that 99 per cent of people will get their money back.

“We know of only four people who have paid us by cash and sadly won’t be able to claim back what they’ve paid for goods on their credit cards.

“Somebody has paid £200 and someone else £350 that we know about,” said Mr Kimbell, who lives near Market Harborough.

“It’s very unfortunate but there is nothing we can do to help them.

“On the other hand about 10 per cent of people are trying to claim cash back having already received their furniture.

“They are just trying it on.

“We are not selling any more items off the shop floor – and we obviously haven’t taken any orders for weeks.

“Everything that’s left will be sold off at auction and the cash raised used to pay off our creditors – such as the taxman.”

Asked for his response to MP Neil O’Brien’s role in the story, Mr Kimbell replied: “I’m not impressed by what the MP is saying.

“I don’t know why he’s trying to get Trading Standards involved in this.

“I gave the MP a whole load of facts showing him very clearly that everything here is being done by the book and has been above board and correct,” said the lifelong businessman.

“Trading Standards haven’t been in touch with me at all anyway.

“I have done nothing wrong.

“Neil O’Brien should come and speak to me face to face if he has any concerns.

“Let’s sit down together and talk this through.

“There are plenty of other furniture shops up and down the country in the same boat as me,” said Mr Kimbell, who was also a director of the Furniture Loft’s predecessor the Furniture Barn, which collapsed in December 2015.

“Of course, I am sorry for the way it’s turned out.

“I am sorry for the 15 staff we employed here at the Furniture Loft set to lose their jobs and I’m sorry for all our loyal customers.

“None of us wanted this to happen.

“But I hope to get everything sorted out over the next few Today Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough District Council, has called for an enquiry into the Furniture Loft’s sudden closure.

“These reports (about the store) are deeply concerning.

“I have written to our MP Neil O’Brien urging him to request an investigation by the Insolvency Service into the alleged actions and behaviours of the company directors,” said Cllr King.

“I would urge anyone who has not had goods delivered in full or been fully refunded to contact Consumer Advice Service on freephone 0808 223 1133 or visit the county council website and report their situation.”

Leicestershire Trading Standards have told us: “It is the policy of Leicestershire Trading Standards not to comment or confirm whether they are investigating a company or individual, or if any action is being taken against them.

“They will comment if a company or individual is prosecuted as that information is then in the public domain.”