Controversial Dewsbury bed firm collapses – 180 jobs at risk

Controversial Dewsbury bed firm collapses – 180 jobs at risk

THE Ravensthorpe bed firm linked to a human trafficking scandal has gone into administration with debts said to be as high as £20 million.

Around 180 employees at Kozee Sleep Beds Ltd, based on the Ravensthorpe Industrial Estate, were sent home this week after KPMG administrators were sent in to take over the business.

Managing director Mohammed Rafiq, 59, is currently awaiting trial at Leeds Crown Court along with two fellow Kozee Sleep staff, Mohammed Patel, 39, and Mohamed Dadhiwala, 46, on human trafficking-related charges. Kozee Sleep logo

The firm was at the centre of a case that created national headlines when Hungarian slave-masters Janos Orsos, 43, and Ferenc Iles, 25, were jailed for five and three years, for a large-scale human trafficking

operation.

Kozee Sleep, which had major contracts to supply beds for companies Next and John Lewis until the scandal broke, was employing staff through Orsos and Iles, who police running Operation Tavernhouse found were being kept in overcrowded conditions across the district and paid as little as £2 per day.

Although Rafiq, who is married to the sister of controversial Dewsbury businessman and political fixer Tahir ‘Terry’ Zaman, denied knowledge of the trafficked workers, further raids by Operation Tavernhouse officers led to charges being brought.

This week a member of the Kozee Sleep staff, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they had feared something was coming to a head.

“There have been frantic shipments of stock in the last few weeks, to other bed companies in the district, virtually emptying the place,” he said. “These weren’t to customers, but to other local firms.

“The rumours have been flying around. On Tuesday night we were told that Terry (Zaman) had offered the bank £11 million to buy back the company and that we might keep our jobs. Now everything is up in the air.”

Kozee Sleep is part of a web of

businesses that began trading as the Hick Lane Bedding Company in Batley in 1992.

Shortly after it moved to the Ravensthorpe site, Terry Zaman, who has a string of convictions over the running of various other interests in Dewsbury and Huddersfield, described himself as the firm’s managing director.

According to Companies House documents however, he has not been registered as a director.

His main business is bed firm Joseph Furniture, based at Bradley in Huddersfield, which Zaman has previously crashed with million-pound debts and bought back.

It was raided over the employment of illegal immigrants in December 2014, while he was fined £18,000 in 2012 after a judge said his mill was a fire safety “death trap”.

Accounts filed in September 2014 showed Kozee Sleep had assets of over £7.5m against liabilities of £5.5m, and that Hick Lane Bedding had assets of £13.5m and liabilities of £5.5m.

The collapse in the companies’ fortunes – which include Hick Lane Properties and Restus Beds, has been sudden and dramatic. Mohammed Rafiq resigned all of his directorships in those companies on March 16, leaving his wife Nasreen – Terry Zaman’s sister – and/or his son Mohammed Faisal Rafiq, as directors.

Rafiq started another company, Sleep Relax Beds Ltd, last September, registered at the family home in Thorncliffe Road, Staincliffe, but it does not appear to have traded.

Joint administrators Jonny Marston and Howard Smith, of KPMG’s restructuring practice, said they are weighing up options and the 180 employees have been given notice of potential redundancy .

Mr Marston said: “Our first priority upon appointment is to assess the company’s financial position and operations with a view to informing our next steps in fulfilling our statutory duties, trying to secure continued employment wherever possible and maximising the realisations available to creditors.”

New Labour MP Paula Sherriff said she would be holding meetings to try to ensure proper support for the affected staff.

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