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'No regrets' for boss of collapsed Chipping firm
THE former owner of an historic family furniture company, which collapsed earlier this year, has insisted he has ‘no regrets’ over rejecting a £1million lifeline.
Chipping-based HJ Berry and Sons was last year offered a cash injection by a business mogul as part of a TV programme.
But months later it was placed into administration, crippled by its generous pension scheme and a declining order book.
Now Andrew Berry, the fifth-generation part-owner of the business has spoken of the firm's collapse for the first time, insisting turning down the offer of investment did not haunt him.
Mr Berry, who lives just yards from HJ Berry’s Malt Kiln Brow former headquarters, and his managing director Brian White were offered £1million by Sir Gerry Robinson on Channel 4 programme Gerry’s Big Decision last year.
But despite being hit by the recession, forcing staff into a three-day week, Mr Berry rejected the cash - a decision he still stands by.
He said: “I do not regret it one bit. We did not know what Sir Gerry’s intentions were with the business and he did not give us any commitments.
“We did not feel we would know or feel comfortable about what would happen if he took part of the business.
“We got on very well with Sir Gerry and I found him very interesting, but with hindsight I would still have made that decision.”
Seven months later, the bespoke wood furniture manufacturer was placed into administration with the loss of 85 jobs.
Explaining the firm’s collapse, Mr Berry, who owned a quarter of HJ Berry, added: “There were companies in Asia and elsewhere making similar products for a fraction of the cost and we were not able to keep going with a large workforce.
“However, in the end it was the pension scheme that did it. It had a large hole in it and we could not fund it anymore.
“It was a very emotional and traumatic time.”
Last month, administrator CLB Cooper revealed HJ Berry was on course to make a £1million loss and had a £5million black hole in its pension fund.
Administrators said there was no prospect of the business continuing to trade.
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