'Conservatory firm customers will not lose money'

The boss of a crashed Lancashire conservatory company has reassured customers that they will not lose out.

When Planet Conservatories, Windows and Doors, based at Walton Summit near Preston, went into administration on Monday, 120 jobs were axed and customers contacted the Evening Post worried about losing money they had paid in advance.

But company chairman Dean St John said: "Customer deposits have been ring fenced and will be returned by application to the administrators.

"In addition, all customers have an insurance-backed guarantee, issued by the Independent Warranty Association.

"As we speak efforts are being made to sell the business and customers part way through installation should get that completed if this process happens."

On Monday staff were called to a meeting at the Oldfield Road base, where Mr St John broke the news that all the staff would be laid off, just days after returning from the Christmas break.

Administrators BDO Stoy Hayward, based in Manchester, has taken control of the business and the company's showrooms in Leyland, Haydock and Holmes Chapel have been shut.

A Double Glazing and Conservatories Ombudsmen Scheme was set up in Lancashire, Manchester and Cumbria, to protect customers against companies closing. It will be rolled out nationally in the autumn.

Tony Pickup, chief executive of the Ombudsman scheme, said: "We offer a free advisory service, and before customers place an order they can come to us for advice.

"For a company to become accredited they have sign up to a code of conduct and join a dispute resolution service.

"If there was a problem we would send investigators out and if a problem was discovered, then the manufacturers have to fix it.

"It is a voluntary scheme which includes a deposit protection insurance and a 10-year guarantee."

For more information visit www.dgcos.org.uk or call 0845 053 8975.