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Moben & Dolphin Bathrooms owner Homeform previously went bust

The stricken company behind Moben kitchens and Dolphin bathrooms previously went bust owing £188m to creditors just four years ago, The Daily Telegraph can disclose

Homeform, which owns the household chains, is now heading for its second "pre-pack administration" since 2007, after it declared its intention to appoint administrators last week.

Among those owed money when Homeform failed the first time were the retail chain's pension fund, which was owed £8.4m and the taxman, owed £7.6m.

The shops were rescued in spring 2007 as a going concern by American private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, which bought them for £9.3m. It is now not clear how much value there is in the business.

The company was originally floated with a valuation of £180m in 1996 as Limelight Group by Stephen Boler, formerly the largest shareholder in Manchester City Football Club. Within a year it had sounded three profit warnings and its share crashed 80pc. Mr Boler walked off with a £54m profit but died in 1997.

Private equity firm Phildrew Ventures then bought the group in 2000 in a buy-out valued at £57m, which resulted in the name change. However, Kroll was called in as administrator seven years later.

Almost 3,000 jobs are at risk from the latest administration, including 1,300 staff in 160 showrooms and 1,500 fitters and designers. It is understood that Sun Capital Partners hopes to arrange a pre-pack administration, shutting down or selling off Dolphin and Moben, and keeping Kitchens Direct and Sharps, the bedroom retailer.

Sun Capital said Homeform has been "severely impacted by the rising levels of unemployment in the UK and a very difficult housing market". Homeform's latest accounts, filed at Companies House, show the company had debts of nearly £23m falling due within one year.

Source : The

28 June 2011
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