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Evesham boss apologises to customers

Reformed company is 'still ethically Evesham'

Evesham founder Richard Austin claims the PC maker is back on track after his company was rescued from administration in August.

The company he founded 23 years ago, Evesham Technology, remains in administration but a new brand, Evesham Micros, has taken its place following a $22m investment from Tahir Mohsan of Dubai-based PCC Technology.

The upheaval left many Evesham customers who ordered from the company immediately prior to the administration concerned that they would never see their PCs, and Austin admitted there was a gap in deliveries while the financial difficulties were being sorted out.

"A few customers were inconvenienced over that period and if any of those people were PC Advisor readers, then I personally apologise to them," Austin told us.

Austin claims all is well with the new company though admits Evesham may need to rebuild confidence in the brand.

"So far so good. It feels more like the old days with everyone really digging in. But it's been tough for a while and things don’t happen overnight."

The company is now trading under the auspices of GeeMore Technology, although will be more commonly known as Evesham Micros, the brand used by Austin's company until 2002. All warranties for systems bought from Evesham Technology are being honoured by the new company, we were told.

Austin said that without the investment from Mohsan, whose name is closely associated with the failed Time UK brand, "everyone would have lost their jobs and customers would have lost their warranties". He said Mohsan was no longer connected with Time when the brand went under.

"He's done it for a reason, which is to make money and be successful, he hasn't done it for love. I can understand people being cautious, but this business is still ethically Evesham."

Although numerous jobs were lost following Evesham's administration, Austin claims to have maintained the number of employees in Evesham's consumer technical support team. "The only staff we lost on service and support were on the business staff. We had 17 business support staff, now we have two or three."

"However, we've actually had to recruit technical support staff for the consumer business. Part of our strategy going forward is that we continue to focus on high-end PCs and in that respect it’s business as usual."

The closure of the government's Home Computing Initiative (HCI) is believed to have been a major factor in the demise of Evesham Technology. Austin said Evesham had invested heavily in the scheme, which encouraged employers to buy PCs and other IT equipment that they then loaned to staff for personal use. Companies buying PCs for their employees were given tax breaks by the government, which was keen to boost consumer IT skills, while staff could make use of a computer setup at home without having to declare the kit as a taxable benefit.

However, then chancellor Gordon Brown shocked the UK's HCI industry during the April 2006 budget by pulling the plug on the scheme without prior warning. Even the head of the HCI Alliance, the group backed by the government to promote the scheme, claimed to be unaware of the plans to axe HCI.

Austin said Evesham lost £30 million in revenue when the government closed HCI, indirectly resulting in 150 Evesham staff being made redundant. "If it hadn’t been canned we wouldn’t have gone into administration," he said.

As well as PCs, Evesham Micros will continue to sell consumer electronics goods, such as flat-panel TVs and sat-nav devices. The first product it launched since agreeing the administration deal was the DTR250 box, a 250GB digital video recorder and digital terrestrial Freeview receiver.


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