Axminster Carpets collapses into administration

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The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, East Sussex opens the newly restored Saloon to visitors this weekend Saturday 8th September 2018.Image source, Jim Holden/Alamy
Image caption,
Axminster Carpets were tasked with recreating the original 1822 carpet at The Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

Axminster Carpets has collapsed into administration after weeks of trying to secure a rescue deal.

The 265-year-old firm, a supplier of carpets to the royal family, appointed Duff & Phelps as administrators on Wednesday.

It is the second time the company has gone into administration in seven years.

In 2013, Axminster Carpets was bought by a consortium led by private investor Stephen Boyd.

About 80 employees at its Axminster factory in Devon have been made redundant, but a handful of staff have been kept on to complete existing orders, the administrators said.

When appointed on Wednesday, Duff & Phelps sold the Axminster Carpets underlay division, Axfelt, to Ulster Carpets.

It also anticipates selling the Axminster Carpet Shop to Wilton Flooring.

In 2018, the firm made a loss before tax of nearly £1m, and a loss of almost £3m in 2017, according to documents lodged with Companies House.

The origins of the luxury carpet maker can be traced back to Thomas Whitty, who began making carpets and rugs in the market town of Axminster in 1755, using what became known as the Axminster method of weaving.

The family firm went out of business in the 1830s, but the tradition was revived in the town in 1937, when Harry Dutfield, the son of a Glasgow carpet designer, founded the current company.

The first carpets were bought by the likes of King George III and Queen Charlotte, who visited the factory. Today, Axminster's luxury carpets can be found at Clarence House, the Brighton Pavilion and Twickenham Stadium.

"Despite a number of expressions of interest no acceptable offer for the core carpet business has been received, leaving no option but to appoint administrators while the remaining options are explored," said Benjamin Wiles, a joint administrator at Duff & Phelps.

"We are continuing to explore all potential options for all or part of the remaining business and assets including the historic brand name itself."