Cullingford Carpets of Wincanton branded “rogue trader” in bombshell letter from trade body

A WINCANTON carpet retailer has been accused of being a “rotten apple” amid bombshell claims made by a trade body after it went out of business.

The Carpet Foundation – which represents retailers across the country – has made shocking claims with “moral and ethical issues” by Cullingford Carpets, based in Wincanton.

It says the firm had carried out a “blatant abuse” of a scheme to protect customer deposits – taking orders and money from customers but often not ordering any goods, as it knew it was insolvent.

In October last year, Cullingford revealed it had made the “difficult decision” to close the “retail side” of the business, citing the fact “Mr Cullingford” could no longer work.

The company is now listed as being in administration, with Sharon Cullingford – former mayor of Gillingham and a town councillor – and Stewart Cullingford listed as directors.

Now, in a letter to customers affected by the closure and seen by your New Blackmore Vale, the Carpet Foundation has said it will not be honouring orders from the “rogue trader” under its deposit protection programme – which guaranteed it would complete orders where customers had paid a 50% deposit.

It said Cullingford had not fulfilled its duties under the foundation’s Consumer Code of Practice, making the guarantee void, and it would now be rewriting the rules in the wake of the company’s actions.

READ MORE: Wincanton firm Cullingford Carpets closes retail side of business

The letter said it had taken legal advice and consulted with Cullingford’s administrators.

“The foundation is advised that the actions and defaults of Cullingford Carpets, and their breaches of their obligations pursuant to the foundation’s Code of Practice, render the Deposit Protection Scheme in favour of Cullingford Carpets void.

“The benefit of that scheme arises from the contractual position between the foundation and its members.

“Cullingford Carpets cannot pass a contractual benefit to its customers which has been rendered void.”

It added: “I regret to advise that the deposit protection will not apply in the case of orders placed with Cullingford Carpets.”

An email to members of the foundation added: “While there are moral and ethical issues, we fervently do not believe that the Carpet Foundation should be held accountable for the blatant abuse of the scheme by one of our retail members, nor should the malpractice of one retailer threaten the viability of the Carpet Foundation.

“The money entrusted to us by you, our law-abiding retail members, should not be spent on making good the foul play of one rotten apple.

“As a direct result of the actions of Cullingford, we will be making changes to the Code of Practice to avoid a repeat of this behaviour and to reassure both members and the public, that it is fit for purpose.”

Cullingford Carpets and administrator Antony Batty & Company have been contacted for comment.

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.