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'We've had sleepless nights': Conservatory firm collapses leaving huge debts

PUBLISHED: 15:55 23 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:56 23 March 2019

Conservatories Etc has showrooms in Diss and Wymondham. It has gone into voluntary liquidation. Photo: Simon Parker

Conservatories Etc has showrooms in Diss and Wymondham. It has gone into voluntary liquidation. Photo: Simon Parker

Archant

A conservatory firm has collapsed leaving hundreds of thousands of pounds in debt.

Nicola Turner-Hewitt who paid £1900 for a conservatory. The deposit was later returned. Pictured with her son Freddie.  Photo: Nicola Turner-HewittNicola Turner-Hewitt who paid £1900 for a conservatory. The deposit was later returned. Pictured with her son Freddie. Photo: Nicola Turner-Hewitt

Conservatories Etc, which had showrooms in Diss and Wymondham, brought in liquidators earlier this month.

According to documents filed at Companies House it owes a total of £760,000 including £240,000 to the taxman.

But owner and director Jon Knights said the actual figure was much lower.

The collapse angered some of its customers who had paid deposits and were waiting weeks for the firm to complete their conservatories.

The website of Conservatories Etc which has gone into liquidation owing £760,000. Image: Conservatories Etc screenshotThe website of Conservatories Etc which has gone into liquidation owing £760,000. Image: Conservatories Etc screenshot

Nicola Turner-Hewitt, 34, from Bradwell, ordered her conservatory in January 8 and paid a deposit of almost £1,900 out of total cost of £7,500.

But work never began.

On Tuesday she visited Conservatories Etc’s offices in Wymondham and was given her deposit back.

“We’ve had sleepless nights. It has been stressful,” she said.

Laura Gay's half-built orangery in her home in Diss. Photo: Laura GayLaura Gay's half-built orangery in her home in Diss. Photo: Laura Gay

Laura Gay, 29, from Diss, paid a deposit of £6,600 in October last year for a £27,000 orangery for her house in Diss.

“They said they would start the work at beginning of 2019 and it would take six weeks,” she said.

“They came in January but then no one returned for weeks even though I contacted them constantly.

“They did return and did brickwork and then left again.”

Conservatories Etc in Diss. Photo: Simon ParkerConservatories Etc in Diss. Photo: Simon Parker

She visited the company with Mrs Turner-Hewitt on Tuesday and was paid back her deposit.

“I’m happy it is sorted,” she said. “They had so much of our money and we just had this hanging over our heads.”

In July last year Conservatories Etc went into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), meaning it struck a deal with creditors to pay off its debts and could continue to trade. Its debts at that point were £450,000.

Liquidator Jamie Playford said the company had struggled since going into the CVA.

It went into the CVA last year because the harsh winter in early 2018 meant it fell behind on jobs, director Mr Knights said.

Customers then asked for deposits back, which were paid, and business was lost, he added.

Mr Knights set up a new company last year called Norfolk Orangeries to complete projects started by Conservatories Etc.

“We had been successful for many years. We are a family business and we didn’t want anyone to be out of pocket,” he added.

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