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  • Danny Harrington

WTF Happened To Time Computers?

The world of computing is littered with failed businesses from internet search engines of yesteryear to computer manufacturers. Yes, for every Microsoft there’s a Sinclair, for every Google there’s a Yahoo!


For this story we head to the North of England, Lancashire to be precise, where a company called Time computers was based, this is the story of how Time went from being advertised by the late great Leonard Nemoy to buying out another British computer brand in Tiny to Time running out on them.

 

Our story starts with an ambitious businessman Tahir Mohsan, born and raised in Blackburn; Tahir’s family were immigrants from Pakistan. By the age of 16 Tahir had founded Time Computers this was in 1987 so well before the age of the internet. By 1999 he was worth a reported £27 million according to an article from the Independent and was then one of the 500 richest men in the UK.


Tahir had taken Time Computers as a 16-year-old working out of a corner shop in Blackburn to the biggest UK computer company by the dawn of the millennium aged 29.

Time Computers didn’t just make computers it also sold them. Starting as a mail order computer business, time manufactured their own PC’s and used other brand names as well as their own.


One brand they did use was a well-established computer brand in the UK called Tiny Computers. Tiny was well known for being mostly a sponsor of Wimbledon football club in their Premier League heyday.


Tiny Computers went into administration in 2002 it saw the Tiny Computers brand and other assets bought out by Time with the rest of the company now called OT Computers was liquidated in 2004.


Time Computers merged its retail base with Tiny’s at the time larger retail unit under the name The Computer World.


At the time, the computer company known as Time were sponsors of Premier League football club Blackburn Rovers, which is where I first became aware of them.

Tahir had dined with the best of them, in 1999 the former leader of the Liberal Democrats Paddy Ashdown had been made non-executive director of the company. He had an ally in the local MP Jack Straw who spoke positively about Tahir work at Asian Business Federation events between 2001-2004.


Yet in July of 2004 the Time Computer house of cards came crumbling down, the ownership company of Time Computers was called Granville Technology Group. It without warning went into administration with several other companies including Time Computer Europe and VMT ltd.


Now strangely Granville Computers Limited which is the old Time Computers technically hasn’t been dissolved at the time of making this video which is December of 2023 although the commencement of the winding up started on the 15th of January 2007 it had only been concluded by July 17th of 2023 meaning the company is due to be dissolved on January 2nd, 2024.


The question now is how and why did this Britain’s biggest computer business if not one of the biggest hit the wall so spectacularly?


Well, a number of factors contributed to the demise of Time Computers one being revealed by administrators of Granville Technology Group, Grant Thornton revealed in a letter to creditors that the company’s stock records were incomplete, there was missing quantities of stock and only 50% of the stock listed had been recovered at the time of administration. It’s important to note that Mohsan denied the allegation that he himself took the stock.


Also, Time Computers had grown quickly but they weren’t known for their quality as their had always been accusations that they were cheap and cheerful but hey sometimes that’s all you need. In 2003 consumer brand Which? Asked their readers whether they would recommend Time or Tiny as a brand the results were 14% of Time owners would recommend and only 8% of tiny owners would recommend.


The company had a complicated ownership structure as well with foreign off shoots such as Time Computers Europe. What also didn’t help was the decline in computer prices and sales, once a market is flooded it’s always a race to the bottom.

Tahir has resigned as a company director by 2004 before the administration and moved himself to Dubai and set up Time Computers Middle East. He continued to own 60% of Granville and presumably maintained some sort of influence given his shareholding and it was his company after all.


The collapse of time saw the end of the chain The Computer Shop and the loss over 1,500 jobs, the company had been losing £2 million a month since January of 2004. Major creditors including HSBC and GE Capital were owed more than £50 million.

The fact that this was a computer company and retail business at a time where computer prices were on the way down it became a very unsustainable model very quickly. The company did make a comeback when the Time UK factory started selling computers under the Time brand under license from Tahir Mohsan to his brother Zia Mohsan.

To conclude when I said Time Computers didn’t exist at all, that was a little bit of a misdirection as we’ve found out the original company won’t be dissolved until January 2024 however Time Group (Middle East) Limited still exists although as a dormant company, they do have accounts for as recent as March of 2022, still listening their HQ in Burnley. There is also an overseas company based in Belfast under the name Time Computers Limited with Tahir Mohsan as one of the directors.


Also, according to the business desk who’ve done some research into Tahir Mohsan most recent political dealings a company they claim is owned by him called IX Wireless being a donner to the tune of £138,000 to 24 Northern Conservative MPs since the election in December of 2019. On Linkedin I can find a page of a Tahir Mohsan that is linked to IX Wireless Limited.


So, Tahir Mohsan based in the Middle East is still around as are some remnants of Time Computers however I’m not sure the employees let go in 2005/2005 would like to hear that.

And now for the advert that started my curiosity here’s is Leonard Nemoy

Did you use Time Computer or Tiny did you work for them; do you remember them for being more than Blackburn Rovers sponsor?

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