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Fraud complaints over high-end furniture seller that shut down overnight

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 January 2020

The Brent Cross branch of Dogtas Exclusive, as it looked in early 2019. Picture: Google Streetview

The Brent Cross branch of Dogtas Exclusive, as it looked in early 2019. Picture: Google Streetview

Archant

Enraged customers claim to have been left high and dry by a Brent Cross-based furniture seller that took thousands of pounds in orders before abruptly closing down.

The ex-seller later rebranded as Hom Concept, then suddenly closed its doors. Picture: Google StreetviewThe ex-seller later rebranded as Hom Concept, then suddenly closed its doors. Picture: Google Streetview

The firm had branches across north London. It was first called Dogtas Exclusive, then changed its name to Hom Concept.

Families across the capital say they placed orders for luxury goods in 2019 that were never delivered.

Numerous complaints about the business have been made to Action Fraud, which is now reviewing the submissions.

The outlets were run via a company called Wolt Group Ltd, trading as Dogtas and owned by a London resident called Sukru Acil. They closed without warning in November.

Visitors were shocked to find the business had shut down after spending thousands on furniture orders. Picture: SubmittedVisitors were shocked to find the business had shut down after spending thousands on furniture orders. Picture: Submitted

Customer Nazia Hussain, who paid a £1,000 deposit in March for a sofa that never arrived, said: "They kept giving us false promises. Many people have been left out of pocket with no goods."

Mr Acil's wife was also the sole director of a company called Saloni Furniture UK Ltd, an entity used to open the first UK branch of Turkish furniture giant Saloni last July.

The multinational firm has since taken over the franchised outlet at Brent Cross Retail Park and is now pursuing a debt claim through the Turkish courts for $500,000.

Last October, a former employee of Dogtas was also awarded £4,333 at an employment tribunal for breach of contract and unlawful deduction from wages.

Police were called when customers descended on the new branch of Saloni in Brent Cross, after the ex-owner had left. Picture: SubmittedPolice were called when customers descended on the new branch of Saloni in Brent Cross, after the ex-owner had left. Picture: Submitted

When contacted by the Times, Mr Acil said: "I have nothing to say. I have left the furniture business. Thank you."

One couple, Talal and Saja Shabaa, paid Hom Concept £3,050 in May for an array of furnishings for their new house in Watford.

They said they were encouraged to pay in cash for the items: a dining table, chairs, a mattress and fittings for their son's bedroom, due for delivery on August 1.

Mr Shabaa said: "They said the card machine wasn't working.

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"After the delivery date passed I kept chasing them. They said it hadn't been shipped, then it wasn't ready, then it was on hold at customs.

"Finally they gave me a date of October 25 - but they closed down on October 18."

Ex-customers visiting Hom Concept in November were aghast to find signs on the doors stating it had permanently closed.

Mohamed Sarvari, from Luton, had paid £4,250 and £2,700 in instalments by June for two orders for sofas and coffee tables.

Another customer, Zahra al-Saffar, had paid £1,600 in cash to Dogtas in March for a three-seater sofa and two armchairs.

"I went to the store in April," she said, "and saw the name had changed to Hom Concept. The salesman reassured me not to worry.

"I constantly made calls to check when I would receive the furniture but got no answer. It felt like I was being fobbed off."

Eventually she was promised delivery on October 23 but, she said, she had a "bad feeling" - so visited Hom Concept's three stores and found they were all shut.

Following the registration of Saloni Furniture UK Ltd. at Companies House in July, two former Hom Concept stores then re-opened under the Saloni brand. On December 8, a group of ex-customers went to the Brent Cross store to confront the staff. Police were called after an argument broke out.

A Met spokesman said: "Police were called at 1.40pm to a disturbance at a shop in Tilling Road. Officers established this was a civil matter."

When contacted by the Times, representatives for Saloni said their firm - which has 200 stores in 45 countries - was in the process of taking over the franchise operated by Saloni Furniture UK.

They claimed that while running Dogtas and Hom Concept, the company had bought wholesale stock from them and other manufacturers, and run up an as-yet unpaid bill of $500,000 in the process. Evidence of this, they said, had been passed to police.

Seran Yurdakul, from the company's finance department, said: "Customers are coming to us with problems and we are trying to help them. But we are the victims too.

"We are a worldwide company and didn't come here for an adventure. It's a bad situation but we are trying to do the best for customers now."

Mr Acil did not respond to further questions.

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