Newlyweds furious as gift firm falters

By Leon Symons, August 1, 2008

Scores of newlyweds have been left without wedding presents after an online wedding gift company suffered financial difficulties.

Some couples, who had kept their presents on hold until after their weddings while they waited to move into new homes, now face the prospect of staring at empty rooms.

Customers will know by the end of this week whether or not they will receive any wedding presents after Wrapit, started seven years ago by Jewish ex-fashion writer, Pepita Diamand, has held talks with potential new investors to try to stay in business.

Many couples who had placed their wedding lists with Wrapit have joined a campaign via a Facebook website, which has forced the company to issue a statement quashing rumours that it was about to go into administration.

Last Friday Toronto-born Ms Diamand, who is also the company's retail director, sent an email to all its clients saying that that was not the case and blaming Wrapit's bank, HSBC.

"After six years of successful trading and rapid growth we ran into a problem in May when our bankers, HSBC, announced without warning that they were concerned about the potential chargeback risk if Wrapit was unable to fulfil its obligations to guests to deliver the gifts purchased. Their solution was to sequester all our credit and Visa debit card revenue into a separate account to provide them with added security. This meant that we were unable to pay suppliers and sometimes resulted in late delivery of gifts," she wrote in the email, seen by the JC.

The email was sent with the names and email addresses of every client on its books, sparking a flurry of mail between clients caught up in the crisis.

Ms Diamand admitted that one rescue deal had already fallen through, but said she was working with KPMG to "put the company back on an even keel".

Wrapit's audited accounts show that it has made a loss every year since 2002. Last year was its worst with a loss of £630,000 on a turnover of £6.3 million.

HSBC said this week: "Our duty of confidentiality precludes us from providing any details of Wrapit's financial circumstances. However, HSBC is a responsible lender and believes it is doing all it can to assist the directors. We now await the outcome of the company's discussions with their advisers and very much hope that Wrapit can continue trading."


The couples left empty-handed

Solicitor Marc Yaffe and his wife Natalie were married in Manchester on June 29. They have not seen a single present yet.

"There is the distinct possibility that if the company goes under, we will not get any of them," he said.
Lisa and Jonathan Weinbrenn married on March 30 in London. They are missing gifts from 27 guests. "It is very uncomfortable and unpleasant to have to ask people who have been overly generous."

Danny Kessler and his wife, Amanda, married in Manchester in March. He said: "The most embarrassing part of this is you have to speak to your guests. What do you say to people? Do you say, send me the money or, can you buy the gift again?"

    Last updated: 4:47pm, July 31 2008