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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 17:04 GMT
Historic firm calls in receiver
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day
Stoddard made the red carpet for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth
Scotland's oldest carpet manufacturer, Stoddard International, has gone into receivership.

The Stoddard board said it had been unable to secure funding to ensure the continuing operation of the company.

The Kilmarnock-based operation had employed over 500 people, but lost more than 6m in 2003, the last year for which figures are available.

The firm made carpets for the film Titanic and the red carpet used on the Queen's wedding day in 1947.

Ernst & Young, which is handling the receivership, will now assess the company's financial position with a view to selling it as a going concern.

Stoddard had warned before Christmas that it needed extra cash to survive.

The company is in a critical financial position and solutions to its problems will not be easy to find
Tom Burton
Ernst & Young

A statement from the firm on Thursday said: "The board has resolved that it has no alternative but to invite its bankers to appoint a receiver and has requested the suspension of the company's shares."

No further information was available on what would happen to the company's deficit-hit pension scheme, which was closed to new employees last year.

Stoddard was founded in 1837 and has sold its carpets to the Scottish Parliament, stately homes, embassies and royal palaces.

It received the Queen's Royal Warrant in 1966.

Shares suspended

The company suffered a fall in demand for traditional Axminster carpets in recent years as customers moved towards cheaper, less patterned products, as well as hard flooring.

It closed a weaving factory and its headquarters in Elderslie in the last year in a move to consolidate operations into one site in Kilmarnock as part of a recovery drive.

Floorboards
Laminate and wooden flooring have increased in popularity
Tom Burton at Ernst & Young said: "The company is in a critical financial position and solutions to its problems will not be easy to find.

"The business has already undergone significant restructuring in 2002 to address the issue of declining sales, but substantial debts still remain.

"It is much too early to say whether a buyer can be found for the business.

"Our first task is to determine whether it is possible to continue trading for sufficient time to identify and conclude a sale to a suitable buyer."

Shares in the company fell from 8p in 2002 to 0.87p before they were suspended on Thursday.


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