Time collapse: Debts could hit £70m

Administrators of Granville Technology report their "significant concern" over missing stock, with millions of pounds mysteriously moved overseas

Creditors have been denied a meeting with the administrators of Granville Technology, owner of the Time and Tiny Computer brands, which collapsed in July with debts that are now estimated to be as much as £70m.

In a statement, Grant Thornton admitted that they were still finding it very difficult to track down the assets of the various Granville companies saying that "stock records are incomplete" and there "is significant concern as to missing quantities of stock" and alleging that much of this was missing from the company's retail premises. Grant Thornton believes more than half the stock had removed.

The administrators also believe that more than £3m of stock for the UK stores had been recently been moved to France in order to set up a mail-order business. In their statement, Grant Thornton complain that "there is insufficient explanation on file" of the rationale behind the decision to siphon off assets to start a business in France while the UK business was failing and no explanation of what had happened to the stock.

Grant Thornton said in its statement that there was no point in holding a meeting of unsecured creditors — at which many of those who had paid for computers but never received them would have been able to put their views — on the grounds that "there will be insufficient property" to distribute. It was reported this week that the administrators had sold the assets of Tiny Computers and Tiny.com to Watford Electronics for an undisclosed sum.

With no audited accounts available, Grant Thornton estimated that Granville's losses in 2004 were £5.7m but began to spiral out of control in 2005.

Throughout the demise of Granville Technology there has been repeated speculation among the ex-employees at Time Computers about the way in which the company was handled. These allegations surfaced in the tinycon.com Web site, which was closed recently, apparently after complaints by Grant Thornton. The employees had repeatedly asked questions about various companies which had been formed by the previous owners of Granville Technology in France and elsewhere. Grant Thornton maintain that there are many things about the Granville collapse "that will require further investigation".