Liquidation looms at troubled Delta

Delta Business Computers, developer of the Crystal for Windows accounts package, ceased trading last week and is likely to go into liquidation when its creditors meet on 9 February.

Directors from the software company approached the Nottingham office of Grant Thornton in mid-January with a proposal for a voluntary arrangement, which was designed to pay secured creditors in full and 60p in the pound to unsecured creditors after 39 months.

The voluntary proposal did not win the support of the company’s creditors, with the result that the company closed its doors and made its staff redundant.

Finance director Mark Jackson remained at the company’s Derby offices to handle enquiries. Jackson could not give details about what would happen to the 100 or so users of Crystal for Windows, but said he believed there had been expressions of interest in picking up the rights to the code.

‘It will be up to the liquidator to dispose of it for the benefit of the creditors,’ said Jackson.

Grant Thornton nominee Ronald Harding is expected to be confirmed as liquidator when the creditors meet on Saturday. He was unavailable for comment when Accountancy Age went to press, but a colleague said that a full account of the company’s demise would be given at the creditors meeting.

The voluntary proposal circulated to creditors in January showed that venture capital group 3i injected #650,000 into the company in May last year, when the Delta projected a loss of #22,000 for the 12 months to 31 July 1998.

Draft accounts for the period prepared in November estimated losses of #760,000 on a turnover of #990,000. The revised draft accounts needed a #410,000 adjustment to ‘correct errors’ in the management accounts, plus provisions of more than #200,000 to resolve ‘historical problems with dissatisfied customers’.

In October 1997, Accountancy Age reported complaints from a series of users who were unhappy with calculation errors in Crystal for Windows, and in the quality of the company’s technical support.

Peter Ingram, IT manager at London-based courier Addison Lee, told Accountancy Age the company had tired of waiting for Delta to deliver ‘front-end’ modules for its Crystal for Windows accounts system and switched to Rocks 2, a bespoke accounting system.

Addison Lee had attempted to get a refund for the unsatisfactory software and was listed among Delta’s creditors.

Up until last year, Liverpool-based accounting software house Datafile had retained Delta as a reseller of its Premier and Diamond programs.

Datafile managing director John Roberts said: ‘In early January, when we had no inkling about the latest developments, I wrote to customers who’d bought our software from Delta telling them that we’d stopped selling to Delta and that they should now look for a new support company.’

As one of Delta’s creditors, Datafile will attend next week’s meeting.

Roberts said he would attempt to contact Crystal for Windows users to offer his company’s assistance.

‘It’s the customers I feel sorry for,’ said Roberts. ‘The damage that’s been done to them doesn’t benefit any software supplier.’

Yarm-based payroll specialist Intex Software also sold its Bonus, Classic and Earnie products through Delta, and is owed nearly #4,000.

Marketing manager Karen Thursby confirmed that Intex had been contacted by Grant Thornton but said she had no information about Delta’s difficulties.

Related reading