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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 17:34 GMT
Courts reopens doors to customers
Courts store (web grab)
The name Courts will disappear from the UK in February
Failed furniture store Courts has opened to customers again two weeks after closing its doors.

SB Capital, which owns other furniture chains, has agreed to sell off as much stock as possible before most Courts' branches close for good on 20 February.

Under a deal agreed with administrators KPMG, SB Capital will also be buying 14 of the company's 88 stores.

Courts had vowed to stay open, but was forced to close its stores as disgruntled customers threatened staff.

14 STORES SPARED THE CHOP
Basildon
Bristol
Cambridge
Cheltenham
Coventry
Dartford
Farnborough
Gateshead
Hayes
Shoreham
Swansea
Walton on Thames
Waterlooville
Watford

It went into administration in November after banks pulled the plug on its debts.

Pledge on orders

The abrupt store closures, which saw a number of outlets almost besieged and in some cases damaged, left thousands of customers out of pocket and without the furniture they had ordered.

The firm's cash flow crisis means it has been unable to pay manufacturers for stock and some have cut their supply to Courts.

Every customer who has paid for their goods will receive them, provided the suppliers have delivered them.

People whose goods have not arrived can choose something else with a 10% discount.

They will not get their money back, however, unless they paid their deposit with a credit card.

COURTS
Set up in 1850 in Canterbury
350 stores in 20 countries
95 stores in Caribbean countries
Staff of 10,000
Suffering from poor sales in the UK, the weak dollar and Hurricane damage to Caribbean business

The 28,000 customers who have paid a deposit will be offered alternative items from stock also at a 10% discount, or can claim a refund from their credit card companies.

Originally SB had suggested it might find it difficult to open all 88 branches because of shortages of staff, since some of Courts' 2,500 employees are already leaving their jobs to look for work elsewhere.

Staff at the 14 stores snapped up by SB should also hold onto their jobs, the firm said, as it will be merging the sites with its Furnitureland outlets.

Meanwhile, KPMG is looking for buyers for Courts' remaining 74 stores after failing to sell the business as a going concern.


Are you trying to pick up goods from Courts that you've already paid for? Tell us about your experience using the form below.

We paid for 2,800 worth of dining furniture up-front on a Visa Debit card 6 weeks before the company went into administration. Today I went into my local branch as soon as it opened and frankly they were not very helpful. I was hoping as it had been 6 weeks that the stuff would have arrived from the manufacturers but was told unless I had already been contacted then it wouldn't have. No attempt to find out for me was made. As it was we had to pick and choose from a very limited stock of display items so we now have mix n match furniture from several lines. To make matters worse we were told the store had opened to some customers YESTERDAY for a pre-selection if they had paid by switch, cash or cheque. As my invoice said VISA, they assumed it was a credit card so I was not contacted. Obviously the customers from yesterday received the best stuff. I am also incredibly angry with my bank the Halifax, who seem completely inept at finding out if insurance exists on a Visa DEBIT card for this type of thing, as it does on the CREDIT card - I have been shuttled round from one department to the next on the phone with nobody having a clue how to deal with my query.
Nick S, Canterbury UK

We paid in cash for a bedroom carpet and Underlay - around 400 in total. It was due to be fitted and the fitters didn't turn up - warning bells and then we found out that they had gone into administration. We were lucky as we had paid in full and the goods were in stock so it got fitted today. The fitters are owed 14k by Courts and don't expect to get it - we had to pay again for fitting just to get them to do the job. I am of course glad we got the carpet in the end but the fact that you get penalised for paying in cash and not using credit is appalling.
Alexia Bennett, Farnborough Hampshire UK

We paid upfront in full, by debit card, for a mattress at the beginning of November from their Watford store and never received the goods. My wife has just been to Courts to try to pick up/arrange delivery for our order. In the first instance the advice was that she can make a claim through VISA via our bank and there was 100% certainty we will get fully refunded. The alternative was an offer of a much cheaper mattress which my wife was not happy with. It seems they have no intention of meeting orders if they can get away with convincing you that you can get your money back in another way. As my wife didn't like the mattress we will now go ahead and try to claim through VISA, via our bank. Does anyone know if we have a definite claim through VISA? Has anyone managed to claim from VISA as yet? I am still very angry that Courts are not taking responsibility for their customer orders, even though they are stating in the press that they will.
Khilan Shah, Northwood, Middlesex

My husband works at one of the stores. After reading the notes already posted I feel really angry. Do the customers not realise that the staff in those stores may not have a job next week or the week after? They can only offer what is in stock or on the shop floor to customers. I really do think that the customers are the lucky ones in this situation - at least they still have a job and will get something in place of the money they have spent. The staff with the exception of the 14 stores which have been purchased will be out of a job, some sooner rather than later! Please give consideration to the staff when you go into the shops they don't need the hassle at the moment.
Anonymous, South Yorkshire

Phew!! A 650 table and chairs have just crossed our front door, less than 2 hours ago! This was paid for in full by Debit Card and we had resigned ourselves to not receiving anything. A call out of the blue to advise of delivery has certainly made it easier to serve the Christmas Turkey this year!!! I don't know what you can learn from this though - do you check the financial state of everyone you buy something off? Merry Christmas administrators, I will raise a glass on Christmas Day
Anonymous, Stourbridge, West Midlands

I paid a deposit for 475 via my Barclays Visa Connect debit card. On hearing about Courts' problems I contacted Barclays and they were very helpful. Barclays connect debit cards are covered by insurance and I recommend anyone who has used one to contact their bank.
Mark Smith, Stevenage

The staff have been just as badly affected by this as the public. We have spent the last 2 weeks wondering whether or not my partner has a job. We are now unable to buy many family presents and it is the wrong time of year for a permanant position. For those of you who have got or are getting something even if it does not match the living room curtains be thankful - think of those who will not have jobs. For your info we only get news of what is going on by looking at the internet or the BBC website as it seems KPMG and friends can't seem to be bothered to let the remaining staff know what 14 stores were being kept. I just told my partner, who is in the store at this moment, which stores were being kept from the info above which none of them knew.
Name supplied, West Sussex

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Sky News Courts Reopens Its Doors - 19 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Courts stores reopen with 2,000 job losses - 23 hrs ago
The Scotsman Courts to open again after agreeing to sale of 14 stores - 14 Dec 2004
TelegraphRescue for 14 Courts shops - 14 Dec 2004
The Sun Sofa so good for Courts - 14 Dec 2004
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SEE ALSO:
Deal agreed to open Courts stores
13 Dec 04 |  Business
Courts furniture stores stay shut
08 Dec 04 |  Business
Furious shoppers keep Courts shut
03 Dec 04 |  Business
Courts to go into administration
29 Nov 04 |  Business


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