Tiny’s out of Time

Time Computers Ltd. has bought out the U.K.’s biggest computer maker, Tiny Computers Ltd., which went into receivership yesterday.

Time is to take over Tiny’s brand name and retail stores, and will stuff Tiny’s Scottish manufacturing contract with Fullarton Computer Industries Ltd. by moving production to its own plant in Burnley.

Time today assured customers that it will honour all of Tiny’s consumer warranties and that terms and conditions would not change.

Customers who have paid money to Tiny but not yet received their computers will be contacted within the next two days, says Time. They will be given the choice of a full refund or a Time machine.

“We want this to go as smoothly as possible,” said Time spokesman Colin Middlemiss. “For now, Tiny customers will not notice any real change; should anything change in the future then they can rest assured that we will contact them personally.”

But some might see the takeover as bad news for customers. Time came bottom in last year’s Which? report on PC brands, scoring worst in all three tables from ease of set up to reliability. Tiny, on the other hand, fared much better throughout all categories.

“The report was unfair and didn’t take into account that many of our customers are first-time buyers and therefore experience more difficulties than business customers,” countered Middlemiss.

But Time also did poorly in PC Advisor’s own Service & Reliability report, published in November 2001.

We praised Tiny last year when it trounced Time in releasing the Takami PC-based home entertainment system – Time’s Player was a cheap imitation with few of the Takami’s functions. It seems, however, that this tactic has paid off for Time.

There is no specific figure on how many job losses are expected at this stage, but Time has said job cuts will be necessary across all areas. Whether Fullarton, which makes IBM’s PCs, will shed any workers as a result is unknown, but the signs aren’t good.

Scotland has been hit hard by business closures throughout last year, losing Motorola and then Carrera. This will be yet another blow for Scottish workers.

“This is an extremely challenging time for Scottish manufacturing but the future does look brighter,” said a spokeswoman at the Scottish Enterprise, an association set up to attract global investment in Scotland.

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