Museums catalogue firm collapses: V&A criticised for failing to alert suppliers to debt fears. Tim Kelsey investigates

THOUSANDS of people have lost money after the collapse of a company which ran mail-order catalogues for some of the country's top museums and charities. Dozens of small arts and craft manufacturers have also been left with large debts following the demise of Design Marketing Limited, which organised gift catalogues for the Victoria & Albert Museum among others.

The Independent has learnt that the V&A had concerns about the commercial viability of the mail order company more than a year before its demise.

More than 100 manufacturers met last night in Birmingham to initiate a campaign for the recovery of debts. They say that they agreed to participate in the catalogues only because of the endorsement given to them by the museums and charities.

Aziza Fahim, who makes candlesticks, ear-rings and wooden sculptures, lost pounds 8,000, a considerable chunk of her pounds 100,000 annual turnover. 'At the end of the day they should meet our shortfall. We only agreed to participate in the V&A catalogue because they are such a prestigious institution,' she said.

The V&A is, however, refusing to meet the demands of creditors. Michael Cass, managing director of V&A Enterprises, the commercial arm of the museum, said that the collapse of Design Marketing had been 'mortifying, but we have done our best to ensure that people will get what they are owed'.

He conceded that the collapse of the company, with its effects on confidence in the V&A gift catalogue, will cause substantial losses. He also admitted that the V&A had been worried by evidence in 1992 that DML was failing to pay suppliers. 'We took a lot of steps to check out what the financial position was and felt we had taken reasonable steps,' Mr Cass said. Despite these misgivings, the company continued to operate until it went into receivership on 2 December, 1993.

The company ran mail order catalogues for several other institutions beside the V&A - though this is believed to have been the largest. Childline and the World Wide Fund for Nature were other clients. Thousands of people who ordered products for Christmas did not receive them. Most have still not done so, and have been warned that their money is not recoverable.

Many consumers are upset because money for these goods was accepted by the company after it had gone into administration. Angela Bowyer, who spent pounds 87 on presents, accuses DML of cashing her cheque three days after the receivership. She has received no goods, or any explanation from the receivers, Touche Ross. 'I shall not be ordering anything ever again and I'd like to get my money back.' Another customer contacted the company shortly after it had gone into receivership to ask what had become of her order. She was told that the delay was the result of stock shortages.

One stain glass supplier to the V&A catalogue has lost pounds 5,000. Other suppliers claim that there were 'panic calls' from DML immediately before going into liquidation, ordering goods.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas