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By | Kelly Fiveash 14th August 2007 11:16

Evesham: Staff and customers speak

Your views on the British PC maker

In what was an extremely difficult week for ex-employees and remaining staff at Evesham Technology, our stories generated a huge amount of comment.

Here's a selection of the tears, fears, and jeers you have shared with us:

Following rumours of an imminent buy-out, a press release was sent out on 1 August to news services across the country confirming that Evesham had been thrown an apparent $22m lifeline from TimeUK founder Tahir Mohsan.

By the end of that Friday, however, news was reaching Vulture Central that the firm had in fact fallen into administration.

We had more than 100 comments from angry posters telling us that staff had been asked to leave immediately.

One disgruntled ex-employee wrote:

I am currently a member of staff at Evesham, although what I witnessed this afternoon was carnage.

People were stood outside the main staff entrance in tears, with guards at the doors not allowing anyone into the building.

Austin has **** on everyone who works there, the way we have been informed of what was going on is terrible and austin should hang his head in shame.The staff have been treated like dirt, thrown out without a job.

Those with a job just wanting to leave as not only collegues but friends are just gone.

This happened around 5pm, with people still milling around long after this, people walking out were just carrying the personal possesions that they had left there, dignity shredded by Austin himself.

The question is how long are the remaining fish going to be there for, because thats what we have all been treated like, fish in a barrel. Some shot and fired, the ones who dodged the bullet are allowed to stay... for now.

While another commented:

As for finding out - the stores were closed by administrators/bailiffs - they didn't even get a special Richard Austin announcement - half of them still don't know if they have a job or not because no ones told them Evesham is no more.

Government needs to stop companies from performing disgraceful acts such as this, Evesham had the stock and should have died with some dignity and paid the loyal staff that they did have their due monies.

Instead they took the cowards way out and shafted a lot of people, I hope their reputation is destroyed forever.

One reader blamed Evesham's relationship with businesses for the firm's financial woes:

Don't blame them for the companies inability to invest in retail, blame the people at the top who were so fixated on business sales - only then for business sales to ultimately be the cause of Evesham's demise - forget these excuses about HCI - yes it made up a large portion of sales, but what were they doing before this came in?

Retail sales alone will never carry a company along when it's main focus is NOT retail sales, this was just another angle of the business, and once the business side of Evesham failed to bring in the numbers (for whatever reason) retail was always doomed - regardless of how many cold calls you made.

While poster Evesham Guy said:

What happened to all the profit that HCI made did RA invest back into the company hmmm didn't look like it to me my showroom looked like a bag of shit falling to bits.

How many times was my showroom promised a reimbursement hmmm about 20 even went to the planning stage before i bet RA pulled the plug.

One "shocked", newly redundant Evesham worker wrote late on Friday:

I still can't believe we had no official statement to say we were all out of work. The first most of us knew about it was when the people representing the administrators walked into the showrooms, said they were there to do a stock check and someone was going to change the locks and we had to send our staff away.

We all assumed we would at least get *some* notice, and a chance to find new jobs, but nope - Richard Austin screwed us all over by doing this, and the people who get to stay probably won't get to stay for long.

I finally left my showroom at just gone 9, having stayed behind to help with the stock check, and I'm actually still in shock.

There were some truly great people working for this company, and none of us deserved this, especially after the last few weeks of having to bullsh*t to our customers about the lack of stock.

To all my former colleagues at Evesham, whether I knew you or not, I wish you all the best.

Another "disgusted" ex-employee pointed to the recent floods in Evesham, which Austin was apparently directly affected by:

Evesham was more than a workplace we were like family, It wasn't about the job it was about the camaraderie.

RA seems to have forgotten the people that put that Ferrari in his garage (well at least until the floods hit - divine retribution???) and the food on his table.

As news broke that the indigenous British computer maker had fallen into administration, laying-off some 150 staff as chairman and founder Richard Austin attempted to steady the ship with the help of Tahir Mohsan and DTE Leonard Curtis, many ex-employees continued to vent their spleen:

One long-term customer, Mike Hartley, said:

Yet another sad day for British tech firms.... I've got fond memories of Evesham Technology dating back many many years - and I've used them a lot of the past couple of decades.

My sympathies to all the staff who've been screwed over.

An anonymous poster told us:

I am one of the business sales team and have been told on Friday that the company cannot continue so we are all redundant. Having learned that Evesham is continuing due to a timely handout should have been good news for those that have got the chop - enough to pay for the 3 days worked in August we were promised by Richard himself and then enough to pay us for the 'consultation period' he should have given (90 days according to Acas).

However the letter I received today from Leonard Curtis business rescue & recovery advises me to claim via the Government with 6 - 8 weeks likely payout time! Surely Richard should show some consideration for those who have given very loyal service - some as long as 20 years. I am sure he can afford it, just sell the Farrari he has bought in the last few weeks!

While another said:

The last month saw a massive loss in showroom support, and I know that 25 of my personal customers have not had the systems they paid for, some orders date back to the end of June! This could not be as sudden event as it has been claimed.

Basic stock was not ordered for about one month, the contract with our courier was not renewed, the accounts dept stopped taking many forms of payment two weeks ago and we were constantly told that everything was ok - it was just a possible takeover.

I'm am sick and angry over the way this was handled.

A rare chink of sunlight shone on Austin in a comment from a positive poster:

Maybe Mr Austin has done well out of Evesham over the years. Good for him. What do people think? You run a business for nothing?

Building up a business is risky, sometimes ruinous, and invariably hugely time-consuming. Most don't survive. Also don't forget that Evesham has also employed loads of people over the years too.

By last Monday Evesham's website showed the firm to be trading as GeeMore Technology Ltd t/a Evesham Technology, but Austin was not making himself available to comment on what was going on at the Vale Park HQ.

Many of you continued to speculate over what was going on. At one point there was even a suggestion that bailiffs had turned up at Evesham stores:

They were definitely bailiffs at my store, the bailiff said, "I'm a bailiff". He showed us his bailiff credentials, and when we asked him what was going on he said, "I dunno, I'm just the bailiff." He was either completely wrong about his profession or somebody is lying! We didn't like to question him, he was over 7ft tall.

El Reg finally heard from Austin later that day. He told us that bailiffs had never been present at the stores and that instead staff had confused the administrators with bailiffs. This comment led one observer to tell us:

Yes ... everyone was in fact wrong... they were not bailiffs. They were Umpalumpas Employed by Mr Richard "Wonka" Austin to run his Chocolate erhhh Computer factory.

In many years time, there will be a promotion, where Austin puts a gold ticket in a PC box. If you get the golden ticket, you win a trick to AustinVille.

One customer lamented over Evesham's passing:

How sad to hear of the demise of Evesham Technology. There was nothing better on a rainy Sunday afternoon to drive down to the factory shop and treat myself to a spanking new monitor or a flat panel telly. Or to sit at home and marvel at the bargains at

Am I now expected to deal with a load of faceless multi-nationals or amateurish cottage industry companies? I enjoyed the banter with the Evesham staff as we filled in the finance applications. (They did ask ridiculous questions but it was all part of the fun!) Then to come home with my whatever it was, safe in the knowledge that it had a free 3 year warranty.

Last night I had a dream I was shopping at PC World. No, not a dream, a bloody nightmare! Would I get out without being sold an extended warranty? Thankfully I woke up in time! (No pun intended!) But having felt relief that I was only dreaming, the harsh reality hit me that Evesham, at least as I knew it, was no more. I feel like crying.

By last Tuesday Austin was insisting that it was "business as usual" even as the GMB union turned up at Evesham's gates to show its support and demand action for redundant staff. Unsurprisingly perhaps, many of you disagreed with Austin's tone:

My business is struggling, I need to get rid of all the stock which is worth money before the administrators come in. Anyone want to set up a business, I'll sell you the stock for a pittance, then when it's all done we'll buy my business back trading under a new name.

This way there won't be any assets for the administrators to sell so my loyal workforce of many years won't get their greedy hands on any redundancy money.... sound familiar Mr Austin?

On Thursday we reported on one ex-employee's decision to register the and names as a website for Evesham staff to stay in touch via a forum.

Interestingly, the new bosses of Geemore didn't have the foresight to register the domain themselves, but not all of you were convinced that it really mattered that much: you think maybe they didn't bother registering it because its just a temporary holding name whilst Evesham Technology Ltd changes to something else? Get real guys - this happens all the time in business. They didn't register it because they don't want it and rightfully so; Geemore is a rubbish name.

I wish you all the best in getting the monies you're due, and hope you all find yourself back on your feet as soon as possible.

By last Friday we were reporting on Austin's impressive U-turn. The Evesham founder and chairman had been blaming the firm's financial demise on the government's withdrawal of the Home Computer Initiative (HCI) scheme.

But in April 2006 it was a very different story with Austin telling Channel Business magazine: "Fortunately for us we have our feet in lots of different ponds. We are not totally dependent on HCI; it is only 12 or 13 per cent of our turnover. It is really not going to cripple us."

Quite a few of you pondered over this assertion:

Richard Austin has foot in mouth.

While another observed:

By and large Evesham suffered the same fate as a number of British Builders by trying to take on the big boys at their own game. Evesham could not achieve the economies of scale that firms such as HP and Dell enjoy. This automatically put Evesham at an huge disadvantage.

Evesham should really have looked to finding a niche market for themselves where economy of scale is a less telling advantage. One thing that is shining through is that Evesham were most likely relying on HCI far more than Mr. Austin was prepared to admit. A stance that implies that Evesham were in trouble a long time ago and that HCI was possibly viewed as a white Knight to shore up an already compromised business model.

Never the less 150 jobs have been lost and yet again its the same old story of British management incompetence.

We'll continue to follow developments at Evesham. In the meantime, if you've have anything you want to tell us about the firm, drop us an email via the byline at the top of this story. ®

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