PARTY supplies firm Peeks was unable to carry on amid the uncertainty over when pubs and hotels would reopen, its liquidators have said.

Hundreds of people have expressed their sadness after the Daily Echo reported that the long-established Christchurch business had appointed liquidators.

Portland Business Recovery, which was brought in to wind up the company, said all 25 staff had lost their jobs and were being helped to make claims from the Redundancy Payments Office.

It said trade had been cut overnight when the government announced in March that pubs should close immediately.

The company had already been “significantly affected” by Brexit as the hospitality trade cut back on non-essential purchases. It began downsizing and cost-cutting in January.

The Euro 2020 football tournament and the summer Olympics were expected to be big earners for Peeks but were postponed until next year. Parties to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day were cancelled.

Bournemouth Echo:

The company closed on March 24 and used the government’s furlough scheme.

Portland said: “With the uncertainty of when pubs and hotels would reopen and with costs cut as far as they could be, it became clear to the directors that they were unable to continue as they simply did not have the funds to see the pandemic through.”

Nicola Layland from Portland said: “Covid-19 has had an unprecedented effect on companies, particularly those servicing the hospitality trade.

“Unfortunately the government support was not sufficient to keep the company going during its closedown.

“As the company was not specifically in the hospitality trade it was unable to obtain some of the support available.

“The decision was a difficult one for the directors, particularly given this has been a family business for generations. The directors could see that they would not have sufficient funding to get through the issues caused by the pandemic and therefore wanted to make a decision at an early stage to close rather than increasing debts which could not be paid.”

Hundreds of Echo readers voiced their disappointment in Facebook comments.

Neil Hewitt wrote: “I guess in these times, it’s almost impossible to get it sold on in administration, given they have no idea when they’ll be able to reopen or have any kind of market to sell to.

“We used them as you could see what you were getting rather than invariably being disappointed by cheaper online products.”

Gilly Smith wrote: “A sad time for the staff and I hope they all find other jobs. But it is to be expected that Covid-19 will be the nail in the coffin for many businesses who were already struggling against high business rates, loss of footfall due to online shopping and cheaper products being available in supermarkets.”

Catherine-Ann Shannessy said: “So sad – such a fantastic shop with such a great range. Loved walking around and picking up bits for parties. Far better than shopping online.”