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The morning of Thursday, June 7 began with a flurry of speculation. A text message from one of the country's biggest furniture retailers arrived first thing, questioning why Fabb Sofas' stores hadn't opened that morning.


By 10am, emails and conversations with suppliers — already wise to the fact that product was not being accepted at warehouses — quickly confirmed that Fabb had already opened its doors for the final time, less than two years since its launch store opened at Hedge End.


PwC's appointment as administrator was confirmed that afternoon. It is received wisdom that most companies that fail do so within their first year or two of trading. In that regard, Fabb Sofas conformed with the norm. But in few other ways.


Startups with no secured debt, run by experienced and highly-competent industry executives and backed by a billionaire considered by some the best furniture retailer of all — certainly the finest of the analogue era — really shouldn't be calling in administrators after less than two years.

In reality, it grates to use the word fail. Fabb — to the best of our understanding — was trading as those at the top of the organisation 

had expected it to.


What that means in reality might never become public knowledge. As we revealed last week, PwC, the administrator, has prepared its first report for the benefit of the company's creditors.


Its summary on Fabb's performance is brief, to say the least.


"Despite achieving significant revenues in such a short period, the business remained reliant on external funding to support trading losses," it wrote, adding that "without external funding, the business could not continue to meet its payments as they fell due."


Hardly revelatory fare. Administrators often provide an income statement for the insolvent business, even if it is only drawn from management accounts. PwC is no exception, as its reports into the insolvencies of Maplin, Beaufort Securities and company behind the Bargain Booze/Wine Rack businesses witness this year alone.


But not so with Fabb. Many in the furniture industry were incredulous when Fabb launched back in 2016. What was the motivation, and who was actually driving the idea?


Just as many people are left scratching their heads now, asking why — having built what was a probably a £50m–£60 million business seemingly at the start of its journey — call time on the whole thing?


Many in the trade — us included — have drawn parallels between Fabb Sofas and Tapi Carpets. But on reflection, we'd liken it more to Wren Kitchens.


Backed by the wealthy Healey family, Wren racked up cumulative losses of more than £39 million between 2009–2014 as it built itself into a retailer doing, at the time, £200 million a year in sales.


Fast forward to 2017 and Wren had all but wiped out those losses. Last year, it made more than £12 million net on £406 million in sales and — with heavy investment already made and capacity in place — we'd be surprised if profits don't make another step change forward in 2018, despite the horrible big-ticket market.


Surely this was the path Fabb was destined to follow, if the plug hadn't been pulled prematurely?


We might never know for sure, but logic suggests Fabb's trading performance was not the principal reason behind its early demise.


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