Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Luxury phone-maker Vertu collapses

Luxury phone-maker Vertu collapses

Vertu will be forced to liquidate its UK-based manufacturing arm after the luxury phone maker has failed to cover its £128m deficit, of which Vertu owner Murat Hakan Uzan meant to pay £1.9m. As a result, all its manufacturing operations shut down and 200 jobs lost. The latter, on the other hand, claimed that his plans to invest £1.9 million ($2.46 million) in the business and get it back on its feet crumbled when he found out that Vertu has £128 million ($165.5 million) in unpaid bills, salaries, and debts. Its old owner - Hong Kong hedge fund manager Gary Chen - claimed that he still hasn't received the £50 million ($61 million) he was supposed to get for selling the company to businessman Hakan Uzan back in March.

Founded by Nokia in 1998, the handset maker was known for creating handsets out of the ordinary. The phones have included models coated in expensive leathers, built from premium metals, and even included buttons made from precious jewels, all contributing toward that high price point.

Vertu phones carry hefty price tags - its Signature range starts at £11,100, and one model featuring 18-carat red gold costs £39,100.

The handsets were touted as being made from "only the most exquisite materials and cutting-edge technology".

"It is very unusual, they hand make the phone at incredibly low volumes and they were incredibly high-priced", said Ian Fogg, an analyst at IHS Technology.

"It is a hard material to work with", Mr Fogg told the BBC.

It seems that while there are many in the world with money to burn, paying thousands of pounds for these smartphones did not appeal to a client base large enough to keep the company afloat - especially when you bring competitors such as Apple and Samsung into the picture. An update on the company's fate and Uzan's possible efforts to save its brand may follow in the coming months.

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