Complaints against Belfast Furniture Mall stacking up
Trading Standards officials have received around 50 complaints about a furniture firm which disappeared from Belfast overnight in June, leaving customers and suppliers out of pocket.
Belfast Furniture Mall was opened in December 2013, taking over premises formerly occupied by local family firm Fultons, which went into administration in July 2012.
The unit on Boucher Plaza was bought back by developers Corbo and was let to a consortium parented by Finest Furniture Ltd.
However, there was shock in when the store closed suddenly in late June with around 20 staff left without a job, wages or expenses.
Lorry loads of furniture belonging to suppliers or customers were removed from the premises and tens of thousands of pounds worth of bills are as yet unpaid.
One services supplier said that it was pursuing the matter through the courts while it also emerged that the venture had been part-funded by around 200 small investors in England.
A Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Trading Standards Service spokesperson said: "Trading Standards can confirm that they have received 48 calls about Belfast Furniture Mall."
Finest Furniture Ltd, also drew £700,000 in funding from peer-to-peer investors who had signed up to Assetz Capital in Stockport.
One of the directors of Finest Furniture was Englishman Andrew Cohen, son of Bruce Cohen, who, along with his two brothers, owned Courts furniture retailer, which collapsed in 2004.
A string of companies associated with Finest Furniture Ltd in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland have also gone bust in recent months.
Andrew Cohen was also once a director of Revolution Galleries, trading as Cost Plus Sofas & Beds, which ran 20-plus shops in the Republic and went into administration in 2013.
The firm was then bought by Finest Furniture Limited, trading as Colossal Clearance Centre, which reopened two stores in Dublin, one in Portlaoise and one in Cork, which then closed down in June.
The last director of Finest Furniture Limited to be appointed was Vassos Siangolis, who ran the Belfast store until his appointment was terminated on June 13.
One supplier, Michael McGurk, of Pinakle Interior Products, made all his deliveries and invoices out to a Dublin-based company, Clonmore Furniture Services Ltd, which has also gone bust.
DETI said that customers who purchased goods or who paid a deposit using a credit or debit card may be able to reclaim their money back from their card issuer.
Customers can also contact Consumerline on 030 0123 6262 for advice.