The British hardware manufacturing unit of luxury smartphone maker Vertu will be shut down after its owner failed to settle the company’s debt of £128 million ($165.53 million), according to a report from The Telegraph. The closure of the operation is said to result in approximately 200 of the company’s employees being laid off. Murat Hakan Uzan, the exiled Turkish businessman who owns the brand, previously offered to save the firm from administration through a pre-packaged deal. However, his bid was reportedly rejected by the UK High Court earlier this week after Uzan offered to pay just £1.9 million ($2.46 million) for the company with the aforementioned deficit.
The latest turn of events might not be the end of the Vertu brand, as Uzan still owns the firm with its physical assets and intellectual property, with recent reports indicating that he isn’t planning on giving up on the company entirely, though it’s currently unclear how he’s planning on saving the struggling original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Uzan’s possible follow-up to Vertu may not be as high-end as the original venture was, especially if the businessman is interested in reducing it operating costs in an attempt to make the company more sustainable.
Vertu is widely known for producing smartphones with extremely high price tags that are more expensive than their more traditional flagship peers despite not having internal hardware that’s comparable to the latest high-end solutions and not running the newest stable Android builds. While the prices of some of its smartphones were often in the tens of thousands of dollars, its feature phones weren’t necessarily more affordable, with the recently launched SIGNATURE Cobra being introduced with a $360,000 price tag. As with many other luxury product manufacturers, Vertu was aiming its offerings at people leading a particular lifestyle and was also providing related services, including a now-discontinued concierge one. Originally established as a division of Nokia in the late ’90s, Vertu changed a number of owners throughout its 19-year history, having been purchased by Uzan just last year. An update on the company’s fate and Uzan’s possible efforts to save its brand may follow in the coming months.