AN online retailer in East Lancashire has been forced to call it quits after a supermarket giant withdrew from the market.

Cleverboxes had made its name as a digital partner of Tesco, selling everything from home decor and furnishings to domestic appliances, garden and lighting products and gadgets.

But the outfit, which notched up a turnover topping £12million seven years ago, was devastated when pulled out of the field.

Administrators have been called in at the firm, which has been located variously in Altham and Hapton in recent years.

First incorporated in 2002, Cleverboxes’ founder and managing director Vernon Yerkess signed a deal to become Accrington Stanley’s shirt sponsor.

But joint administrators Jeremy Woodside and Lindsey Cooper, of RSM Restructuring Advisory, are in the process of liquidating the venture, as a result of its Tesco struggles.

Their final statement of affairs showed that Cleverboxes, which latterly employed 19 people, owed more than £613,000 to creditors.

The administrators confirmed that accounted for around 70 per cent of Cleverboxes' trade and the decision to withdraw had prompted directors, following a raft of cost-cutting measures, to appoint the liquidators.

Mr Woodside said: “‘Despite implementing a range of cost-savings measures the loss of a major contract was too great, and the company could no longer continue to trade.

“It is with regret that employees of this local business have been made redundant with immediate effect, and we are working with the Redundancy Payments Service to support those employees to process claims as quickly as possible.”

The announcement rounds off a difficult few years for Cleverboxes, last based in Magnesium Way, Hapton.

Thieves broke into their offices in 2013, with three masked men stealing £100,000-worth of computer equipment after tying a security guard to a radiator.

Multi-millionaire owner Mr Yerkess was also hauled before Burnley Crown Court in 2016, with sons Harrison and Benjamin, after bouncers suffered racist abuse outside Brady’s Bar in Whalley.

The father, then of Padiham Road, Sabden, was given a community order and his sons suspended jail terms, for affray.