A HOME improvements firm which went bust just before Christmas leaving many angry customers with unfinished jobs has been bought out by a smaller rival.

County Windows, based in Winchester has announced today that it has acquired the business and assets of Apple Home Improvements (AHI), for an undisclosed sum.

AHI, which was headquartered at Aviation Business Park, Bournemouth and had showrooms in Parley and Hedge End, collapsed in December with the loss of more than 100 jobs, and numerous uncompleted orders.

The firm had had offered double glazing, doors, conservatories, heating systems, cladding, gutters, fascias and porches.

Following the acquisition, the enlarged group will trade as County Windows from its existing head office in Winchester.

Both AHI’s showrooms in Bournemouth and Hedge End will be rebranded and begin trading as County Windows in the coming weeks, say County.

Peter Hall, chairman of County Windows said the new firm would take over Apple's unfinished work. "Everyone who had a contract with Apple has a contract with us," he said.

Mr Hall said he would take on AHI staff and contractors where appropriate and would be in contact with them shortly.

Apple had around 100 workers, a mix of full-time and sub contractors – County has just 15 staff.

Mr Hall said his firm had not been actively seeking to expand but said: "I wasn't expecting Apple to go under but when it fell into my lap I was interested."

He added: “The combined turnover of the new County Windows group will be in the region of £14m, a sizeable company in the region which we anticipate will have a positive impact for the local economy and employment opportunities."

As it was a sale of assets and business only County have not taken on any of AHI's debts.

County Windows (Winchester) Ltd was established more than 30 years’ ago. The company’s management is headed up by managing director, Martin Snow, previously a director of Anglian Home Improvements, and Pat Jeanes, also from Anglian, is in charge of sales.

AHI had been run by Scott Hill from New Milton. On the morning of December 19 he gathered staff together at their Hurn office and handed them letters telling them the firm could no longer afford to pay them and their employment was at end.

Sub-contractors were sent texts telling them to cancel all jobs.

A member of staff who worked in AHI customer service said the firm had a bulging order book but was beset by complaints from customers, many of whom were withholding payment.

A helpline and email address have been set up for AHI customers to contact with queries about their existing orders. These are 01202 283333 and info@county-windows.com.