A group of five companies that sold household furniture across the UK under the I-Sleep Ltd (I-Sleep) umbrella were wound-up in the public interest on 8 January 2014 for selling goods of low quality, or failing to supply goods already paid for, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator.
I-Sleep Ltd sold household furniture such as beds and sofas from shop premises in Dewsbury and Huddersfield. The other four companies - Foxton Furniture Group Limited, Goole Furnishings Limited, Crawley Home Furnishings Limited and Ilford Home Furnishings Limited - traded as I-Sleep franchises using the same business model from 10 retail shops mainly in the Yorkshire area.
However, the enquiry found that there was a serious lack of transparency over the control of the businesses. In particular, there was no evidence that the companies were being run as separate businesses. Indeed, all the companies used one bank account for sales receipts, used generic documentation and one person appeared to have significant control of all the companies.
The enquiry also found that there was a substantial history of serious customer complaints across the I-Sleep franchises suggesting a serious disregard for customers and consumers and disreputable trading methods.
The companies own records showed that the companies had received 870 complaints in a six-week period in early 2013. These included various quality issues and failure to supply goods despite payment in full having been received. Further complaints involved misrepresentation, bullying and threats towards customers, some of whom were vulnerable members of the public.
The court also wound up another five companies related to I-Sleep which had apparently been formed to protect the brand but had never traded.
The Insolvency Service worked closely with Trading Standards in West and North Yorkshire to bring the companies to justice.
Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service Alex Deane said;
The insolvency Service works closely with other law enforcement agencies to protect the interests of the public against unscrupulous people.
Where the agency becomes aware of companies like these trading in ways that are clearly objectionable we will investigate and work across agencies to remove them from the market place.
I want to thank Trading Standards in West and North Yorkshire who have provided valuable assistance in achieving these outcomes.