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Carrera goes belly-up

Hope on the horizon for Carrera customers as Digital Networks shells out

It’s all over for Carrera, at least the way it was. The company’s administrators, Panel Kerr Forster, can’t sell the business as a going concern, so the company will be broken up and incorporated into a new company, called Carrera SSC.

Digital Networks is picking up the pieces, including some warranties. Digital Networks has also promised honour contracts placed with Carrera on or after 10 October.

Carrera’s name and other intellectual property rights have been sold to Digital Networks as part of a $4million acquisition programme. Digital Networks also scooped up the crumbling assets of failed PC builder Sight and Sound Computers earlier this year. Digital Networks plans to build a home entertainment brand and will be selling Carrera products through the Sight and Sound website (www.ssc.co.uk) by the end of next week (10 November).

Mark Johansen-Berg, Digital Networks's director, promised to honour some of Carrera's warranties and deal with all inquiries. "As soon as the contract is signed in the next few days all customer problems will be dealt with [through the helpline]," he said.

Digital Networks’s technical repairs company, Maztech, will issue new warranties to customers, said Johansen-Berg. But details of warranties have not yet been disclosed. "All Carrera customers are entitled to technical advice via our helpline and we will do our best to resolve the situation as soon as possible," he said.

"The market is consolidating and soon there will only be room for around 10 major players," said Johansen-Berg. Digital Networks is currently in negotiations to take over another London-based computer company.

Two weeks ago Nitin Joshi, director of Panel Kerr Forster, said he was "99 percent certain of a sale of the business by the end of the week". UK-based PC makers Mesh and Hi-Grade were thought to be potential buyers, but ruled themselves out and a buyer failed to emerge.

Carrera, established in 1993, has been classed as "a higher than average risk company for the past two years”, according to Eddie Pacey, manager at Ideal Hardware, a distributor of Carrera’s products.

Colin Collier, managing director of Carrera, said that the company’s failure was "due to a sudden and unprecedented credit squeeze".

Although attempts were made to keep the struggling company solvent, once word of the company’s problems spread, goodwill declined rapidly over a three-week period, Collier said. "Some of our suppliers experienced as much as a 60 percent cut in their credit allowance," he added.

In what must have seemed unpleasantly apt, Carrera’s petition for administration was granted by the High Court on Friday 13 October.

Collier conveyed his apologies to Carrera’s customers and said: "I sincerely wish the new purchasers well and I am glad that the Carrera name will continue."

Carrera customers in need of help or technical advice should call the Digital Networks help line on: 0870 444 1948. Those customers still waiting for PCs should phone 020 8307 2835.


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