Conran restaurant fitter goes bust

THE COMPANY that refitted Sir Terence Conran's showpiece London restaurant, Quaglino's, has gone bust, claiming that it is owed more than pounds 120,000 from the contract, writes Jason Bennetto.

Howard & Constable, an interior fitting company whose clients include the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, went into liquidation on Friday. Peter Howard, the managing director, said yesterday that money still owed by Quaglino's was partly responsible. Quaglino's denies it owes the money and intends to make a claim against Howard & Constable's liquidators, alleging defects in the work.

The dispute is over penalty charges for late completion and a bill for extras on the pounds 1.75m contract. Sir Terence re-opened the 420-seat restaurant in February.

Mr Howard agrees the contract was finished a week late in January. After the completion, he says, Quaglino's ordered an additional pounds 250,000 of work, which was carried out but not all paid for. Eventually the disgreement was over pounds 200,000. Quaglino's sent an pounds 80,000 cheque.

Howard & Constable, based in north London, had 60 staff and has been involved in a number of projects in its 13-year history, including fitting out another of Sir Terence's restaurants, the Pont de la Tour restaurant.

A Quaglino's spokeswoman refused to comment on specific points, but a statement from Joel Kissin, the managing director, said: 'Howard & Constable have been paid the full amount of the agreed contract sum less an agreed retention sum of 1.5 per cent . . . (An) additional payment was made to enable Howard & Constable to pay its sub-contractors.

'Notified defects have not been attended to. As a result of this we will be making a claim against Howard & Constable's liquidators. We do not believe the insolvency . . . can be attributed to difficulties on this project.'

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