Angry customers keep Courts stores closed

COURTS' furnishing stores will remain closed until further notice to prevent aggression by angry customers.

Administrators for the collapsed furnishing group dented hopes of early re-opening of the 88 shops in Kent and nationwide.

They blamed "disturbances and aggressive incidents" by a small minority of customers for their decision.

The struggling retailer with stores in Maidstone, Gravesend, Dover, Canterbury, Ramsgate, Ashford and Erith, collapsed with debts of £280m.

None of the disturbances was reported in the county. A spokeswoman for KPMG corporate recovery said there had been problems in stores at Basildon, Thurrock and Sheffield.

In one case, a customer sat on a sofa they had ordered and refused to move. In another, windows were smashed. It was important not to expose staff to further risk, she added.

Mick McLoughlin, joint administrator and head of KPMG Corporate Recovery, said: "We have completed a comprehensive stock take of the business.

“We appreciate customers' frustration and would like to be able to open the stores to facilitate the release of stock that has been allocated to customers where balances have been paid in full or can be paid.

"There are in excess of 3,000 customers who could receive their furniture. Unfortunately, because of disturbances and aggressive incidents that have taken place over the last couple of days, perpetrated by a small minority of customers, we cannot take the risk of reopening the stores.

"In some cases, it is the very people we are trying to help who are preventing us from opening. We will review this situation over the coming days but the safety and security of Courts staff is a major concern to us."

Whilst the stores remain closed, employees will continue to be paid, Mr McLoughlin said.

He added: "We have received substantial interest in the business and are in discussions with a number of interested parties. Our strategy remains to sell the business as a going concern."

The joint administrators have sold Courts Contract, a non-retailing division of Courts Limited, to the existing management team, safeguarding 90 jobs at eight warehouses.

Courts' overseas operations are trading normally. A customer and shareholder information sheet is available at and the customer and shareholder helpline number is: 0870 950 1333.

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