Online furniture retailer Made.com has collapsed into management after weeks of speculation, putting about 500 jobs at risk and leaving customers worried about their orders.
The company’s brand, domain names, and intellectual property were immediately purchased by fashion and homeware store Next.
It completes a reflection on the fortunes of London-based Made.com, which was worth around £800m when it was listed on the stock exchange in June 2021 and heralded as the future of furniture retail.
Officials from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will look into the company’s other remaining assets and said creditors will be paid according to legal priority.
The Guardian understands that Next has offered £3.4m to buy the brand, but has not taken the company’s workers or any of its furniture, lighting and household items.
“After going through an extensive process to secure the company’s future, we are deeply disappointed that we have reached this point and how it will impact all of our stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders,” Made.com president Susan Geffen said in a statement.
She added that she deeply regretted the “frustration” caused by Made.com’s fall into management and thanked company employees, customers and suppliers for their support.
Made.com stopped taking new orders in late October, but there will be thousands of customers anxiously waiting to see if they’ll receive refunds for pending orders.
Lisa Webb, consumer rights expert at Which? It has not always been easy for consumers to exercise their rights when the company is in management.
“Many customers may find themselves in a situation where items are not delivered. It is always worth trying to claim a refund in this case but customers should know that it is not guaranteed.”
It said the cost of repairing defective items could still be claimed if they came with a warranty, and added that the downed companies may not accept returns.
Made.com’s outlook was dark for some time before its collapse. Like many other online retailers, its sales boomed during the coronavirus pandemic when locked-in consumers spent money building their homes.
However, those restrictions faded when Covid restrictions ended and customers started complaining about long wait times and delayed deliveries of velvet sofas and custom-made rattan furniture.
Made.com warned of job cuts in July as the economic outlook worsened, as cash-strapped consumers further reined in their spending, particularly on “expensive” goods.
The retailer launched a last-minute search for a buyer but had to cancel the search when it couldn’t find anyone willing to take over the entire company.
Made.com was founded in 2010 by Ning Li and Brent Hoberman, who co-founded Lastminute.com, along with Julien Callède and Chloe Macintosh. Li said in 2017 that Made.com wanted the new Ikea to be, “the pioneer of the next trend for how people shop for their homes.”
Shortly before the company’s collapse, Lee told me he had submitted three proposals to the Board of Directors of Made.com and PricewaterhouseCoopers to buy back the company.
He claimed his offer was turned down, writing in a LinkedIn statement: “Apparently, it would be better to split the company and sell it in pieces to generate more money. It doesn’t make sense to me. But I wanted you to know I really tried.”
Officials are required by law to select an offer for a failing company that will raise the largest amount for its creditors.