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MADE co-founder reveals rescue plan rejection

Co-founder and former chief executive of online furniture retailer Made.com Ning Li has revealed his final attempt to rescue the business ahead of administration was rejected.

In an open letter to his former staff at MADE, Ning Li said his plan was to simplify the products on offer as well as streamline the business, while saving around 100 jobs and keeping offices open.

MADE is expected to call in administrators, with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP set to be appointed this week, impacting around 700 jobs.

This announcement follows MADE’s recent struggles of completing a sale or raising further funds to continue to trade. It recently revealed that a number of interested parties were invited to work towards firm offers by the end of October but they were unable to meet the necessary timetable and as a result those discussions had been terminated and it was no longer in receipt of funding proposals or possible offers for the business.

It is understood that fashion and furniture retailer Next is believed to be the frontrunner to buy the MADE brand name.

Ning Li’s letter in full said: “I had many sleepless nights in the last month, watching the company I loved building on its last legs. I haven’t been your CEO for the last 5 years, -some of you I haven’t even met but many of you I hired and had a chance to work with. I couldn’t help but to think of the many things I could have done to prevent the company’s downfall. Yesterday, news broke that Made would go into administration today or tomorrow, and that the brand is being sold to a new owner.

“I can only hope the new owners will take care of the brand the way you have, – with hard work, spirit, and soul.

“Just like you all, I wanted the brand to live on and live well. Last Friday, I submitted my 3rd and final proposal to buy the company back to the board of directors and PwC. I couldn’t raise external money – all the investors were spooked by the situation – so I went all in with my own cash. My plan would be to simplify our product offerings, streamlining the operations, and run a smaller – but profitable business. My plan proposed to the board to keep at least 100 jobs (and more, if I could), keeping our offices open, and honouring all the orders of undelivered customers. It felt just like the right thing to do to me, although I have no clue if other bidders are bothered about saving jobs and reimbursing customers.

“Unfortunately, my proposal wasn’t accepted. Apparently, it would be preferable to break the company up and sell it in pieces to generate a little more cash. It makes no sense to me. But I wanted to you to know that I really tried.

“Just the other day, a customer sent me an email, saying « thank you, for making beautiful things accessible to all». I realised that was exactly what we have been doing for the last decade, and we delivered this promise all the way to the end. Made was an innovator, disruptor, pioneer. No matter what happens next, we have already changed the world for better. No one can ever take that away from you.

“I hope you all will land in great places (I have no doubt). And if I can be of any help in the future, please reach out to me.”

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