Staff at Apple Home Improvements had their contracts terminated just a week before Christmas.

Fitters attempting to buy items at builders’ merchants Travis Perkins discovered cards issued by Apple didn’t work in the hours before the announcement was made.

Fuel cards for vans had also been cancelled without warning.

It comes as suppliers Eurocell confirmed to the Daily Echo yesterday that they are owed more than £76,000.

They supply window, doors and conservatories Apple install for customers.

The Echo was also contacted by a number of sub-contractors owed between £3,000 and £4,500. It is reported that some staff have removed tracking devices from Apple vans and are refusing to return them or reveal their locations.

Bosses held a lavish Christmas party for sales staff just last week at Key West, which lies on Bournemouth Pier.

Food was paid for by the company, and staff who attended say Apple’s operations manager Andy Downes paid for rounds of drinks with “wads of cash”.

Many customers have been left with half-finished work or lost deposits after the collapse of the company.

Director Scott Hill spoke to employees before handing out letters, which read: “I regret to advise you that the company is no longer in a position to make payments to you for services rendered under its contract of employment to you.

“It is my intention to place the company into a formal insolvency process as soon as possible.”

Mr Hill, who lives in Pennywell Gardens, New Milton, reportedly owns properties in Dubai, Marbella and Scotland.

He is listed as the active director of some 11 companies, including Fone Customize (Southern) Ltd, which has a shop in Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, and Apple Renewable Energy Ltd.

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Apple Home Improvements is based in the Aviation Business Park at Bournemouth Airport.

It also offers roof insulation, cladding, artificial grass, porches, fascias and guttering, as well as windows and conservatories.

The company has showrooms in Bournemouth, West Parley, Southampton and Weymouth. All are closed.

News of the collapse of Apple Home Improvements brought back memories for former employees of Larkin Windows in Weymouth, a subsidiary of the firm.

Larkin went into voluntary liquidation three years ago this week.

It is understood around 50 people lost their jobs.

Former employee Pippa Rolls said: “It’s awful. I woke up yesterday and saw a Facebook post from three years ago when me and the rest of the staff that lost their jobs at Larkins and we went out for a meal to sort of say ‘lets make the best out of a lost cause’.”

She added: “My heart goes out to all the people who have lost their jobs because now they will be out of a job at Christmas and I remember what that was like for me. We had to go through Christmas with no money or benefits.”

Director of Dorset Showhomes Tom Bugler said: “It’s brought back a lot of memories to people because it was three years ago that Larkin collapsed.

“If anybody who has been let down by Apple Home Improvements after putting down a deposit for a driveway or anything like that we would be happy to look at taking on the work so that they don’t pay any more than they would have done if Apple had finished the job.”

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