Luxury smartphone maker Vertu has confirmed that its manufacturing arm is to enter liquidation, with the loss of around 200 jobs from its UK facility the result.
Founded in 1998 as a sub-brand of Finnish mobile communications giant Nokia before being sold to a private equity group in 2012, Vertu made a name for itself building high-priced smartphones for the rich. Each device was created with the concept of treating a smartphone like a luxury watch, building it from premium materials but without necessarily investing in the internals. The company's devices ran into the hundreds of thousands of pounds apiece, but with specifications matching smartphones sold for a fraction of that price - the extra money, the company convinced its customers, being worth it for exclusivity, design, and premium materials.
The company also broke with tradition by assembling its devices at a Hampshire manufacturing plant employing around 200 people. Sales, however, have not been strong enough to support such behaviour, and The Telegraph has published confirmation from the company that the manufacturing arm is to be liquidated. As a result, the manufacturing plant in Hampshire is to be closed immediately and its equipment and stock sold off, with the loss of almost 200 direct jobs.
The paper reports of a plan by brand owner Murat Hakan Uzan's attempts to acquire the manufacturing arm from the administrators for £1.9 million, a plan which failed when the High Court noted a £128 million hole in the company's balance sheet. Uzan's Vertu, however, claims that the closure is not the end of the company: 'Our best efforts to achieve a pre-pack administration have failed because the financial requirements specified within the negotiations went beyond the point where the new company had a chance of financial viability,' a spokesperson stated. 'No other part of the group is affected by this development.'
While Vertu-the-brand still exists, it is not known how the company will continue to set its products at the very highest end of the premium market without in-house manufacturing facilities.