Vertu Collapses As Luxury Smartphone Market Dries Up

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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.

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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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