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By | Kelly Fiveash 9th May 2008 07:02

Rock Group goes titsup

Staff theft leads to cashflow problems

Updated Rock Group PLC is in the hands of administrators who are trying to sell the UK notebook maker as a going concern.

The Warwick-based firm said yesterday that it had effectively ceased trading prior to the appointment of administrators, Dominic Wong and David Langton, of Deloitte & Touche LLP.

Rock Group, which has been in business for some 16 years, said it hit the buffers partly because of “cash flow difficulties faced as a result of stock misappropriation by a former employee”.

The firm is unable to fulfil sales orders, and it has warned customers not to send in equipment for repair or warranty work.

Administrators have retained a “skeleton staff” while they attempt an early sale of the business and assets as a going concern.

Rock Group did not reveal how many employees have been laid off.

Rock Group said that credit from suppliers dried up because of the company’s cash flow problems. It was forced to stop trading as it was unable to obtain key components for the notebooks it manufactures.

Rock Group's problems come amid a worldwide shortage of laptop batteries that has affected prices, shipments and sales.

The dent in the supply chain was caused, in part, by a fire at a Korean factory in March. Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Asustek have all said they will be affected by the shortage.

Earlier this week the world's second largest contract laptop PC maker, Compal Electronics Inc, was forced to scale back its Q2 shipment growth forecast, blaming a shortage of batteries.

Update

In March this year, Paul Bicknell, 24, admitted stealing £200,000 of equipment from Rock to fund an extravagant lifestyle. Bicknell, of Long Itchington, admitted nine charges of theft and of burgling the PC firm’s premises, the Kenilworth Weekly News reports. He is currently serving a three-year prison sentence.

A Rock customer had noticed that credit card payments to the firm were going through the accounts of garages, the newspaper said. Bicknell was confronted by the company last July and resigned. A month later, the court was told, he let himself in to the firm’s warehouse and stole kit worth £11,497.

Bicknell used the money to fund a lifestyle of fast cars, including Aston Martins and Porsches, and internet gambling.

In April the court recorder made a “nominal order” that £1 be confiscated from the now penniless Bicknell, the Leamington Courier reports. This means that assets which come to light can be confiscated.®

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