Manchester-based company which sold advertising space on a web-based business directory with little commercial benefit has been wound up in the High Court.

TBL (UK) Ltd (TBL) was incorporated in March 2016 and traded as UK Business Locator, a derivative of its business directory: .

However, TBL shared a common director and continued similar business to that previously carried out by a linked company, Movette Ltd (Movette), which was wound up on 28 July 2017 on the grounds that it operated against the public interest.

The Insolvency Service investigated the company?s affairs following complaints from customers. But the investigation was severely limited due to a lack of co-operation from TBL?s director who failed to produce business documents.

On 20 August 2018, the High Court sitting in Manchester heard the petition presented on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy.
The investigation established, and in winding up the company the Court accepted, that:

the company had been abandoned by its director despite customers being sold annual advertising space in the online directory it purported to operate

customers received little or no commercial benefit to the advertising space that they purchased from TBL on an annual basis

TBL failed to make clear to customers that they were agreeing to a 12-month rolling contract which automatically renewed with customers stating these terms were not explained to them

TBL improperly sought payment from members of the public where they had not agreed to purchase services from the company and used inappropriate and objectionable methods of debt collection

TBL had continued the objectionable business model previously carried on by Movette by continuing to target the customers of Movette

Having seen all the relevant evidence filed by the Secretary of State and in the absence of evidence submitted by the company, which was not present or represented at the hearing, District Judge Obodai wound-up the company, in the public interest.

Commenting, David Hope, Chief Investigator with the Insolvency Service, said:

This company engaged in behaviour designed to extract money from advertisers under false pretences. Organisations contacted were duped into booking advertisements they had no need of placing, and which were of little or no commercial benefit to them.

The Insolvency Service will take action to shut down such rogue businesses.

Additionally, the business community should take steps to verify the credentials of any third party that contacts them claiming to be continuing the services previously provided by Movette Ltd and/or TBL (UK) Ltd.