Sad news as Benjamin Roberts announces closure

karen taft

The bridal industry heard today that the Benjamin Roberts label is to cease operations. Retailers have been assured, however, that existing orders will be fulfilled. Karen Taft is determined to keep everyone - staff and customers - as calm as possible during this difficult period. Here she looks back on events of recent years that culminated in the shock waves that rocketed across the country today

On Thursday evening, 20 April 2017, Karen Taft, MD of Benjamin Roberts Ltd, sent out first-class letters to stockists notifying them of forthcoming closure of the company after 42 years of trading. Novices to the bridal trade, Karen and her parents purchased the company 14 years ago and, with the help of George Efstratiou, proceeded to transform it. The collection became renowned for superb quality, styling, fit and customer service, winning Best Retail Manufacturer in 2009 and 2012. By 2010, the company’s turnover had trebled, staff levels doubled and there were five collections in the portfolio with an enviable network of 400 stockists and a brand new purpose-built factory of 17,000 square feet. Those were the days before

It is tragic that so well-established a brand has suffered through change. New Investors took on 100% of Karen’s shares; but despite some wonderful feedback on the latest collections, gorgeous imagery and a dedicated customer services team, the orders taken were not high enough for them to maintain their interest. Right now, however, all of the usual staff are answering calls at HQ and will be for weeks, possibly months. Every bride’s order will be manufactured and delivered and every store will receive the VIP treatment Benjamin Roberts has always tried to provide.

According to Karen, tributes have been pouring in all morning from fellow manufacturers, sales executives, current stockists, other stores, past accounts and the press. “It is utterly humbling,” she said, “how wonderful everyone has been - so lovely, kind, empathetic, grateful and sincere. But bitter-sweet because they’ve also lost a trusted manufacturer and cannot repeat on their beloved gowns in their store”.

Below is the content of the letter issued to stockists:

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you on behalf of every single member of staff at Benjamin Roberts Ltd that the company will cease trading from today 20th April 2017. 

Although we have enjoyed five successful shows with a wonderful reception to the ‘new look’ of bridal gowns, the orders received were below our threshold for continued investment in this market. Whilst I have relinquished 100% shares in Benjamin Roberts, our main focus now is to fulfil your orders at this very sensitive time.

With immediate effect:

  • 27 April 2017 is the last possible date for you to place any new brides’ orders with Benjamin Roberts Ltd (we appreciate that some brides are part of a payment plan or they are reluctant to confirm their finished size)
  • We regret that we cannot accept any brides’ orders after this date
  • We will need full payment at the point of ordering these last minute dresses* to ensure the orders are produced by our manufacturer.
  • Current orders for brides’ dresses (with a sales acknowledgment) will be dispatched to you once full payment is received.
  • We will endeavour to ship all orders prior to 30th June 2017.
  • Your outstanding orders are shown in the attached list (if applicable)
  • Any outstanding invoices for goods already shipped to you must now be paid in full with immediate effect (if applicable)
  • Any deposits already paid to Benjamin Roberts Ltd for 2017/2018 sample orders will be refunded in full by 28 April 2017.

* Please understand that there might be a few dresses where the lace is not held in stock and not possible to order.

We are deeply sorry to release this news to you. One of our team will be in touch with you as soon as possible to finalise any outstanding orders, invoices, sample loans or any other query.

Thank you for your continued support.

 



 

 

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