Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Luxury kitchen company rescued

By Dave Harvey
Business correspondent, BBC West

Mark Wilkinson kitchen
The new investor plans to take the business forward

A bespoke kitchen company based in Wiltshire which employs 400 people has been bought out of bankruptcy by a private investor.

Shares in the Devizes-based parent company, Smallbone Plc, were suspended on 4 March.

Investor Leo Caplan said: "The future for both the business, its customers and employees is now secure."

The recession has affected sales badly as many customers are highly paid city workers in London and New York.

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) were appointed administrators to Smallbone plc on Thursday, but immediately announced the sale of two subsidiaries, Smallbone of Devizes and Mark Wilkinson.

Robert Lewis, the administrator at PWC, said: "The 400 jobs in Wiltshire are safe, and any customers who have made deposits on future orders will have those deposits honoured."

We have the potential to become the leading specialist furniture brand in the world
Leo Caplan, private investor

There were fears in Devizes that any potential purchaser would simply strip out the equipment and assets of the firm, and then sell it again. But Mr Lewis said the new investor planned to take the business forward.

Mr Caplan said: "We have the potential to become the leading specialist furniture brand in the world, creating bespoke furniture suitable for every area of today's lifestyle, extending our reach way beyond the kitchen."



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