After Theoben’s apparent rebirth as a USA-based firm, members of the UK airgun industry have contacted Gun Trade News to give their responses.
It appears the move has divided the market: consumers will be hopeful their Theoben rifles will continue to be serviced, but the trade has expressed misgivings at what was once a flagship UK brand having effectively taken its business overseas.
Theoben went into receivership in the UK in October 2012, but as Gun Trade News reported last issue, MD Martin Rutterford soon moved to set the Theoben name up in the USA under the banner of Rapid Air Weapons.
A statement given to Gun Trade News by Daystate said: “I find it difficult to palate that a strong, successful British airgun company has been run into the ground by self-interest and management incompetence. It slyly asset-stripped, destroying the company, leading to the laying off of all remaining employees, who have now been paid redundancy at British taxpayers’ expense.
“Theoben’s creditors, according to a statement by liquidators, are owed tens of thousands of pounds, and we are now told that ‘Theoben lives on’ and this will result in improvements.
“Production and quality control is now being supervised by Martin Rutterford, who has an unrivalled knowledge of the Rapid version since its launch 20 years ago. This is the same Martin Rutterford who has been MD for the last 10 years and has overseen the demise of this once highly respected company.
“If he can’t make a go of the biggest PCP airgun market in the world, how is he going to fare running the shop from a lock-up in Tennessee?”
Production continues in the US, with Rapid Air Weapons recently rolling out its new TM1000 target air rifle. Despite the negative reaction of some sectors of the UK airgun industry, it appears the USA-based outfit will press on unconcerned.