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PC franchise outfit goes to the wall

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User 2 Computers, which launched itself onto the PC retail market last year, has folded. Based in County Durham, the company went into voluntary liquidation on 4 January. Only last year User 2 aimed to open a dozen retail franchises at £105,000 a piece. Five were established before its fall. They are still trading and are being run independently under that banner name. User 2 was backed by venture capitalist 3i. Stuart Gibb, former MD of User 2, said the company had gone under due to the slow rate of take up of the franchises and associated cash-flow problems. Gibb added that the PC retail franchising market was especially difficult last year. "There were insufficient funds to continue the franchising. It was a slow process to get the shops up and running." He continued: "It was also down to bad timing and economic forces – some years people look to going into business swiftly, some not," he said. The franchises were opened in Edinburgh, Belfast, Middlesborough and two in Aberdeen. Gibb also said he believed another was about to be opened in Newcastle. User 2 Computers took a sharp fall from its launch onto the market. Last August the company boasted a turnover of around £1 million, and offered to provide franchisees with a fully fitted shop and trading stock for their fee. It also offered technical training to shop staff and group purchasing for cheaper PCs. It assembled computers as well as selling recycled machines. See earlier story. Gibb has now set up a services company - Forbes 2000 - also based in County Durham. ®

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