Dozens of furious customers who shopped at a furniture store have been left out of pocket after the business went bust while holding their deposits.
Many customers claimed they were told by World of Furniture bosses that the shop’s card machine wasn’t working and they would have to pay in cash.
Gerard O’Hanlon, 38, and Simon Harris, 44, were dealing primarily in cash since last November.
But the company closed its doors at Cityside Retail Park, Belfast, Lisburn and Derry, on Tuesday and the directors of the company are expected to attend court today where the company will be declared bankrupt.
That means up to 170 people may have lost their money as a result, according to Belfast Live .
Mr O’Hanlon said he was sorry for letting people down and confirmed the company was due to face court in the morning where World of Furniture would be declared bankrupt .
He said: “We’ve lost everything and we have let people down. We did our best to keep the company running and we hoped that January, traditionally the most lucrative trading month of the year for furniture businesses, would allow us to breathe.
“But it wasn’t to be. The trade really fell away and we could see the writing on the wall but it only really became reality yesterday Simon and I agreed that we had to call it a day.
“We feel we have let down a lot of people, probably about 170 customers and we both feel terrible about it. We took out personal loans to try to help us through but it just wasn’t to be.
“As a smaller company we just didn’t have the buying might to get the furniture in at a price we needed.
“Now a lot of people are very upset with us and we are gutted we have left people in the lurch like this. We had hoped and worked hard but in the end we just had to face reality. It’s over.
“[On Thursday] an administrator will have to deal with our customers. All we can say is we are truly sorry.”
Deborah Tsui from North Belfast says her ailing brother, Thomas, is now reduced to spending his days recuperating from hospital treatment on a deck chair.
She says Thomas is deeply upset and struggling to cope without a comfortable settee or easy chair.
She said the family has lost hundreds of pounds paid to World of Furniture as a cash deposit.
Jenni Lees from West Belfast said her parents, Deidre and Brendan, had saved hard to buy their dream suite.
But after handing over £1,600 cash to the furniture company, the corner couch that was delivered was filthy and damaged.
Brendan said: “It has a hole in the leather and it was filthy. I got the delivery driver to take it away but after clearing our living room of the old suite, it was completely ruined because it was outside.”
Mr O’Hanlon from Co Down, said he had bought the company four years ago with Belfast businessman Mr Harris, with high hopes of delivering good customer service and quality furniture.
They posted a joint statement on a Facebook group angry about the developments and said: “All outstanding customers will contacted by the administrators as soon as possible and they will be advised on the best course of action.
“World of Furniture would like to sincerely apologise to all customers that have been affected or at a loss due to the company closure.”