ONE of the last remaining stalwarts of Wycombe’s furniture trade shut its doors in Kitchener Road this week, saying it paid the "ultimate price" after taking out a controversial banking product.
But the Stewart Linford story is far from over, with the team already up and running at new premises and in a new guise - Luxury in Wood Ltd - on the Cressex Industrial Estate.
The chair-making business, first formed in 1976, has had to close due to cash flow problems caused by the delays in resolving issues, and its claims for compensation, over an interest rate swap .
This controversial method of financing, sold by some banks to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), have come in for stinging criticism in recent times.
The complicated arrangements see banks offer customers the right to fix the base rate on a loan at a certain level to make sure any interest rate rise would not leave a company’s borrowing costs spiraling out of control - but around 30,000 SME's are thought to have found themselves in dire straits through these products due to the unexpected financial impact they could have.
Questions have been raised over the way these products were sold to customers with the Financial Conduct Authority investigating the situation.
Joint administrator Michael Goldstein told the BFP: "Stewart Linford Chair Maker went into administration. Agents have been appointed who marketed the business and the best offer to them was made by Luxury in Wood Ltd, in order to preserve value and save jobs."
Mr Linford and his team will now be operating from the factory of Greengate, which makes high quality sofas, at Cressex. It will operate as a financially independent business but, Mr Linford said, the two manufacturers would complement each other.
He said: "It is a radical change but it is the only way forward. The difficulty with the bank and with the rate swap has been the main driver for this but we also had to look at how we could become more efficient."
The plight of Stewart Linford was mentioned last year in a House of Commons debate by Steve Baker, Wycombe MP, who criticised the firm's treatment - and that of other such businesses - at the hands of banks.
Mr Linford added: "Steve Baker has done a terrific job in fighting our cause. The problem is, it’s taking forever to sort out."