Assets of high-end furniture vertical Wesley Barrell and South Coast sofa maker Billy & Slouch, launched at the NEC this year, have been pledged as collateral to the owner of the two companies.


Notices of debentures granted in favour of Wessex Bristol (Investments) have been lodged with the Companies Registrar, providing comfort if either were to default on their obligations.

It is not known if either business has borrowed fresh funds from Wessex Bristol — the private investment company of entrepreneur Ayiaz Ahmed — in return for the security being granted.

Wessex Bristol acquired heritage upholstery producer and retailer Wesley Barrell in the autumn of 2014, with Wessex Bristol loaning it £250,000 during that year. Wesley Barrell, which has been based in Witney since 1895, had repaid half of that by 2016, the date of its latest publicly available accounts.

Billy & Slouch (B&S Upholstery) is based out of the old Collins & Hayes factory in Hastings. Wessex Bristol last year sold the Collins & Hayes IP and other assets for more than £2 million, with the operating company — renamed CNH 2016 — later being placed into liquidation.

B&S Upholstery acquired CNH 2016's assets for £35,000 and went on to launch a new collection at the NEC as well as maintaining the residual white-label business supplying retailers Heal's and Sofa Workshop.

B&S Upholstery sales and marketing director Vicky Phillips was instrumental in the NEC launch, though she has since left the business.

In a telephone call, she said that she had grown frustrated, and had disagreed with the owner over strategy.

Danny Cleaver has since replaced her on the B&S Upholstery board. Before joining, Mr Cleaver was operations director at WBRX, another Wessex Bristol owned company. That business last year acquired the assets of the upholstery supplies group behind the Porter Valmic and John Singleton brands.

However, WBRX was placed into liquidation this summer, leaving forecast debts of approaching £500,000. Wessex Bristol was its only secured creditor. The Furnishing Report was unable to reach Mr Ahmed.