Vertu Collapses As Luxury Smartphone Market Dries Up

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

The rich and famous will have to get their high-end phones from somewhere else

British-based luxury phone manufacturer Vertu has collapsed after finding that, surprisingly, there isn’t actually much of a market for £10,000 smartphones.

Vertu was founded by Nokia in 1998 with the goal of building high-end devices for the rich and famous, such as the £10,700 ‘Vertu for Bentley’ and the £14,300 Signature Touch Pure Jet Red Gold.

It was known for its bespoke jewel-encrusted devices, made with high-end materials such as titanium and sapphire glass, but is now no more after running up debts of £128 million.

vertu new phones

Going, going, gone

The company will enter into liquidation after Turkish businessman Hakan Uzan – who will retain the brand, technology and licenses – failed in an attempt to bail it out, resulting in the loss of around 200 jobs.

Uzan acquired Vertu for £50 million in March of this year, becoming the company’s third owner in a matter of years after it had previously been sold to a Hong Kong-based investment fund for a reported £450m price tag.

The phone-maker had been experiencing financial difficulties for some time and Uzan’s plan to  pay £1.9m against an an accounting deficit of £128m was quickly quashed by regulators.

A company spokesman said: “Our best efforts to achieve a pre-pack administration have failed because the financial requirements specified within the negotiations went beyond the point where the new company had a chance of financial viability. No other part of the group is affected by this development.”

The drop has seemingly been a steep one. Back in 2015 Vertu released several devices, targeting those consumers who valued style over substance.

This included the New Vertu Signature Touch, a £6,800 device that Vertu labelled as its most powerful smartphone ever. It was also its most complex, being  built from 263 individually hand-crafted pieces.

Other options included a range of £7,600 phones featuring rear panels made of lizard skin and the £14,500 Vertu Signature for Bentley.

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