The administrator of Fultons Fine Furnishings which has outlets in Belfast and Lurgan, has put the business up for sale.
The administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), were appointed in July at the owners’ request and the company’s shops have remained open.
It is understood that that the shops maybe sold separately but an option also exists to lease the shops on a short or long-term basis.
The business began in Lurgan over 50 years ago. It opened a Belfast operation in 1991 and moved to its new lavish purpose-built premises in 2006 on Boucher Road.
Spread across an extensive retail space, Fultons has beome a renowned retails for cusomers looking for up-market fine furnishings.
Ten different departments over two floors in the Belfast store are filled with elegant showrooms for bathrooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, offices and kitchens to give customers inspiration for impressive interior decor.
The various Fulton activities also include a number of commercial and residential property interests and collectively employ a total of 41 people.
Fultons fell in to the hands of administrators only a week after its property arm, Fulton Fine Furnishings Limited, suffered the same fate.
The furniture division of the 50-year-old firm consists of two shops at Balmoral Plaza in Belfast and another at Queen Street in Lurgan, from where the company started off half-a-century ago.
Fultons’ downfall follows a perfect storm consisting of downturn in the retail sector, in particular at the high-end level, and in both the commercial and residential property sector which the company has also been heavily involved in.
Still, the property business recorded a profit in the latest accounts filed at Companies House for the year ended February 2010 of just over £12,000, but that is sharply down on the £1m it made in the year to the end of February 2007. The opulent Boucher Road unit in Belfast, which houses both a retail offering and a popular restaurant, epitomises the high-end flavour of the brand.
Its furniture found willing buyers throughout the boom years in Northern Ireland up to 2008, but tightening disposable income over recent years has meant fewer people are able to afford such tastes.
Fultons’ demise follows on the heels of Dekko also located on Boucher Road on Belfast, another relatively high-end furniture retailer, which didn’t go in to administration but decided to close its doors in 2011, blaming cheaper competitors. Another locally-owned store, Laser Direct, went into liquidation in 2010.
It’s thought the likes of Swedish furniture giant Ikea and a move into household goods by some of the major supermarkets are providing the main draw for potential customers.