THE collapse of Apple Home Improvements on Wednesday, with potential debts of hundreds of thousands of pounds, came as a shock to staff, trade suppliers, sub contractors and customers who have paid for work still to be carried or not yet completed.

One supplier of doors and windows to Apple did not know of the situation until called by the Echo on Thursday morning.

They then confirmed they were owed £76,000.

Those now responsible for sorting out Apple's finances say the firm, which was founded in 2000 and will be placed into liquidation early next month, has been brought to this position by combination of factors.

And they say the business had no choice but to fold given its inability to carry on trading without incurring further losses.

The first factor is what is described as substantial cross guarantees from the failure some years ago of an associated solar panels business. Larkin Solar Energy Ltd was dissolved in 2016.

Another issue has apparently been design-fault issues with some types of fabricated roofs which necessitated refunds to customers.

Meanwhile the company has has problems borrowing from the banks - and it is thought that at least one lender had called in a major loan.

It is likely there has been a fall off in orders in recent months because of growing uncertainty in the economy and the reluctance of consumers to spend.

In the year ending March 2017, the company’s total assets were £2.09m, while its total liabilities were £2.08m.

Net assets were £16,000 at that time – 98 per cent down on the previous year.

The total turnover was £13.39m – 27.91 per cent down year-on-year.

Latest turnover figure is £11m according to business advisers, Quantuma.

Insolvency partners at the firm Simon Campbell and Andrew Watling have been instructed to handle the liquidation.

Mr Campbell said: "The Quantuma team has been brought in to advise the company, after it experienced significant cash flow difficulties, leaving it unable to pay employees, sub-contractors and trade suppliers. As a result, the company will be placed into liquidation.

"We are working with the business to try to construct a deal with a third party to ensure that work-in-progress is completed, and disruption and loss to customers is minimised.

"This is obviously terrible news for employees and sub-contractors, particularly at this time of year, however it was clear that the company had no choice but to take this decision given its inability to trade forward without further losses."

Scott Hill, the boss of Apple Home Improvements, also holds directorships at more than 10 further companies.

Mr Hill, who was born in January 1960, has held some 33 appointments in all from 1999.

His first business was Hilldonia Builders Ltd.

He launched Apple Conservatories Ltd in 2000.

Mr Hill is currently listed as the active director of companies including Customate (Southern) Ltd, Fone Customize (Southern) Ltd, Apple Conservatories Ltd and Apple Renewable Energy Ltd.

Dissolved companies previously led by Mr Hill include Apple Greendeal (Ltd), Larkin Solar Energy Ltd, Act on Solar Ltd and Apple Solar Photovoltaic Ltd.