Granville Technology Group, the owner of high street computer chains Time, Tiny and The Computer Shop, has gone into administration dragging the three retailers down with it.
Monthly losses of more than £2m finally put paid to the ailing giant, which has been in trouble for the last couple of years and hasn’t even filed any accounts since June 2003 (when it turned in a profit of £2.5m). More than 1,600 staff will consequently lose their jobs and thousands of customers who have placed orders with Time and Tiny are unlikely to get their cash back.
It is not currently known what will happen to all the warranties and service contracts for the estimated 2m owners of existing Time, Tiny and The Computer Store equipment, but in the past rival firms have stepped up to the plate and offered to take these things on so there may be some hope.
A helpline has been set up for those nervously biting their lips and scratching their heads: 0870 381 7097, but prep yourself a long wait.
It is never fun when a firm goes to the wall, but what leaves a particularly bitter taste in the mouth this time around is the cloak and dagger manner in which it has happened. Yesterday customers were told stores were temporarily closed “for stocktaking”. Staff were instructed not to come to work for two days because of a “credit card transaction problem”, but assured it would then be business as usual.
Even worse is the fact that Time’s website (Tiny’s has just gone offline) provides no news of the situation and is still taking online orders effectively stealing the money of those not clued into the current situation (see above – taken at 2pm today).
Update: Thankfully, it has just gone offline to be replaced by this message:
Throughout the duration of their business, the budget orientated Time and Tiny computers were consistently slammed by reviewers but, nevertheless, the opportunity to save a few quid struck a cord with consumers. Falling PC prices and intense global competition took its toll on the Granville Group though and the costs of maintaining the shop fronts put it at a severe disadvantage compared to online only monoliths like Dell.
Creditors Grant Thornton UK LLP will now move in and hack up the firm, selling off any assets in an attempt to pay outstanding debts. Sadly, the customer on the street is likely to be at the very bottom of their list of priorities.
Unsurprisingly, despite several phone calls, no one at the company could be reached for comment.