Hundreds of couples are facing the prospect of starting married life without their gifts after a company calling itself the "ultimate wedding list service" admitted that it was in financial difficulties and negotiating with its backers to avoid going into administration.
Wrapit, which handles up to 3,500 wedding lists a year via its website and had pledged to revolutionise the wedding-list industry when it was set up in 2000, said that a decision by its bank, HSBC, to withhold £1m of its funding had forced it to consult the liquidation specialist KPMG.
The company added that it was closing its showrooms to customers who do not have pre-booked appointments until further notice. Callers to its headquarters, in London, were met with a recorded message informing them that the situation would be clarified next week.
The crisis is the latest problem to hit the company, which has been the subject of a welter of complaints in recent months from customers alleging delays of up to nine months in the delivery of items. Such is the level of unhappiness that a Facebook group has been set up as a forum for disgruntled customers. It already has 185 members.
The company, which was founded by a former fashion journalist, Pepita Diamand, and won a national small-business award in 2005, is understood to be spending the weekend trying to secure funding from investors. The online service, which at one point had a turnover of £6.3m, has been trying to refinance itself since September.
Wrapit said: "We have encountered a financial difficulty due to the fact that our bankers HSBC have held £1m of our money which would otherwise have been devoted to fulfilling our orders. We are working with our advisers, KPMG, and will make further announcements in due course."
The company claimed that it was able to offer a broader range of goods than high street retailers and will deliver within eight weeks of a list being closed.
But Amy Hinchcliffe, a management consultant from Leeds who set up the Wrapit Facebook group after she and her husband, Craig, were left waiting nine months for their gifts worth £2,000, said: "The service was impeccable, they made you feel special, sat you down with a glass of wine and it was much better than fighting your way down a department store aisle with a scanner in your hand. But when it came to delivery, the situation was beyond awful. We we were repeatedly told items weren't in stock and getting fobbed off about when they might be available. It was only after an awful lot of time, complaint and heartache that we finally got our goods."
Wrapit, which says it guarantees refunds for customers as long as they have paid by credit card, employs 100 staff in 15 showrooms across Britain.
'We have been let down'
Claire Oldfield and Colin Wilson
Our relationship with Wrapit started really well. People ordered gifts and I got an email to say what had been bought and by whom. But nine months after we got married and seven months after we closed our list we are we still waiting for many gifts. I have lost count of the number of emails I have sent. Wrapit blamed their suppliers. It is a cliché, but weddings really are the stuff of which memories are made. It is not just we who have been let down by Wrapit, our guests have, too. A whole lifetime of future memories have been destroyed.