The name Lloyd Loom is known throughout the circles of high society, from the Royal Box at Wimbledon to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s home at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire.
Next year sees the 100th anniversary of American inventor, Marshall Burns Lloyd, patenting the revolutionary process whereby wicker was weaved more quickly and precisely than ever before.
By the 1930s, the Lloyd Loom brand of furniture was the luxury item of choice for hotels, restaurants, tea rooms, ocean liners, airports and even the German-made Zeppelin Airship.
Then 20 years ago, the Lloyd Loom story came to South Holland when a factory opened in Wardentree Lane, Pinchbeck.
Founder and ex-managing director of what was originally called the Lloyd Loom Group of Companies, David Breese, said: “People have always known Lloyd Loom, even if they haven’t known what it is.
“If you say to nine out of ten people ‘Do you remember, in your parents’ house, the gold corner linen basket in the bedroom or the bathroom?’ they will say ‘Oh yes, my mum did have one of those’.”
People have always known Lloyd Loom, even if they haven’t known what it isDavid Breese, founder and ex-managing director, The Lloyd Loom Group of Companies
There are many companies with the Lloyd Loom name that are flourishing, but one has recently been associated with controversy after the sudden closure of a factory in Pinchbeck last year.
Depending on who you speak to, the eventual liquidation of what became known as Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd on February 17, 2016, is a tale of gradual decline, unfulfilled orders, eye-watering debts and questionable management.
An ex-Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd employee, who asked not to be named, said: “I’ve retired now after having worked for most of my life.
“But the last two years were pretty well ruined and it’s only in the last three or four months that I’m beginning to feel better.
“I was laid off in January, having not been paid for weeks, and I was going to sign on for Jobseeker’s Allowance because I guessed that I’d find it difficult to get a job at the age of 65.
“Me and my wife’s savings virtually vanished and we were living hand-to-mouth which created a lot of tension between us.
“I don’t even know to this day how much damage it’s done because it depressed me awfully and it was unspeakably difficult to carry on at times. It’s almost impossible for me to explain the distress and pain this saga has caused me and my wife.”
Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd was bought by overseas-based Velocity Group in 2013 and shortly afterwards, managing director Anthony Draxler was appointed along with fellow director Yun Chen.
In a statement sent to the Spalding Guardian in January, Mr Draxler said: “Lloyd Loom of Spalding Limited was sold to the Velocity Group by the then majority shareholder and managing director Julie Davenport whose family had owned the business for approximately 15 years.
“At the time the business was sold, it was losing approximately £250,000 per year, on sales of just under £2 million.”
Further evidence of Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd’s downward spiral can be found in a report prepared by London-based insolvency firm Alexander Lawson Jacobs who were appointed at the time of the firm’s liquidation earlier this year.
An extract from the report said: “During the early years, (Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd) enjoyed good growth, with sales peaking at just under £5 million some ten years ago.
“A significant part of these sales were to overseas markets, with the company twice winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise during this period.
“However, in around 2006, the company entered into a prolonged period of decline and at the time of the takeover, it had a high level of debts.”
None of this will come as any satisfaction to Derek Jackson (73), of West Pinchbeck, who ordered goods from Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd in November 2015.
He said: “Me and my wife paid £1,000 for four chairs and we were told the furniture would take approximately six weeks to arrive.
“But it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the goods or the £1,000 we paid in good faith.”
Speaking to our sister newspaper, the Lincolnshire Free Press, in September 2016 about the order, Mr Draxler said: “People order goods and sometimes they get them early, sometimes late.
“But that’s nothing to do with Lloyd Loom of Spalding Ltd which went into liquidation due to unfortunate circumstances.”