Ely Kitchen Firm Goes Bust

PUBLISHED: 13:11 09 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 May 2010

ELY kitchen company Crout Furniture Ltd has gone into liquidation with creditors claiming thousands of pounds. The company, based in St Mary s Street and run by Peter Crout, called in the liquidators after a customer sued it for compensation. It claims it

ELY kitchen company Crout Furniture Ltd has gone into liquidation with creditors claiming thousands of pounds.

The company, based in St Mary's Street and run by Peter Crout, called in the liquidators after a customer sued it for compensation.

It claims it was forced to take the action after Ely couple, Keith and Anne Mitchell successfully lodged their claim, saying a kitchen installed at their home was not completed, with many items being undelivered. Their arguments were supported by a Joint Statement of Experts put before the court.

Now the couple will join a list of creditors hoping for some compensation when the company is finally wound up.

Mr and Mrs Mitchell, of Cambridge Road, Ely took legal action against the company at Cambridge County Court claiming £15,000 plus costs.

They commissioned Crout Furniture to design, manufacture and install a new £29,000 kitchen. The company agreed to project manage the whole job including plumbing, electrical, plastering and flooring work and the Mitchells claim they handed over £21,000.

But they say the work was not carried out to a suitable standard and, when they were unable to find anyone to rectify the problems or complete the work started by Crout Furniture, they were forced to employ another company to install a completely new kitchen.

The court found in the couple's favour after Crout Furniture failed to lodge witness statements by a set date. Now the court must decide on the level of compensation to be paid to the Mitchells and they will join the creditors' list.

Mrs Mitchell said: "We liked the idea of a local company of long-standing doing the work. They told us they knew reliable trades people to use to take the hassle out of the job and we were impressed with the product we were shown.

"We have learnt some hard lessons from this episode."

Long-standing customer, Tony Warin, of Mildenhall had been totally satisfied with Crout Furniture when he commissioned the company to fit a kitchen in his home 20 years ago.

He contacted the firm again recently to provide £50,000 worth of kitchen and bedroom equipment for a Norfolk conference centre and paid a £5,600 deposit.

But he claims that 11 days after his cheque cleared, the firm went into liquidation.

"This has been a nasty experience," he said. "I had expressed some concern about the length of time the negotiations were taking to complete an order but, because we had no pressures on our timescales I wasn't too worried as the company had done good work in the past."

Suffolk-based liquidator, Steven Law, has been appointed to investigate Crout Furniture's affairs and estimates it could take up to a year reach a conclusion.

He said: "I am aware that one of the claims was subject to a court action. The liquidation was a voluntary action on the company's part and it has been attributed it to a court action."

Now Peter Crout claims he wants to be back in business under a new name.

Mr Law added, however: "I am not in the process of selling the business back to Mr Crout. This does happen in some liquidations, but not in this case.

"But any director has the right to make a living and if they choose to trade as a sole trader there is not a great deal any creditor can do about it."

Mr Crout told the Standard: "We have been a sole tradership and a limited company for 35 years and our reputation has kept us going all this time.

"I have run up about £20,000 in legal costs but the true costs are immeasurable. I wanted to call a truce and walk away. No-one wins in this situation.

"This has been a big setback. I cannot describe how bitter I feel. But I am hoping to trade again from the shop and I have chosen a new name.

"The one mistake we made was agreeing to be project manager and responsible for other trades people."

Pic 7646EXMitchell: Anne Mitchell who has fought a court action over the kitchen at her home.

Photo: HELEN DRAKE

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