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Mon 14 Sep 2009 02:39 PM

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EXCLUSIVE: Blue Banana boss eyes new UK venture

Failed entrepreneur who fled Dubai owing huge debts aims to start again in England.

EXCLUSIVE: Blue Banana boss eyes new UK venture
GIFT BUSINESS: Simon Ford during happier times at Blue Banana in Dubai. (ITP Images)

The owner of an events and alternative gifts company in Dubai who fled the country after it failed leaving huge debts is trying to set up a new business venture in the UK, Arabian Business has learnt.

Simon Ford, the owner of Blue Banana.com, left the UAE in June after the firm’s debt had grown “exponentially”, but he pledged to repay every last dirham of its debt.

He said at the time that he was not running away from the debt and blamed the lack of bankruptcy laws in the UAE for his decision to flee.

Three months later, he says he is looking to "kick start a new business venture" with "like minded entrepreneurs" in the UK, and is thought to be based near Birmingham where he earlier obtained a degree in business management.

In a message posted on business networking website LinkedIn, Ford added: "Looking to connect with like minded entrepreneurs, share knowledge, brainstorm creative ideas in business, share contacts, make referrals and support each other to kick start a new business venture or offer support to small start-ups.

"Also happy to offer free consultancy service for small businesses needing to focus and streamline their brand with their customer experience cycle."

He also posts details of his Blue Banana business, saying that he built it up into a $3m business from scratch but does not mention the subsequent failure of the business in June.

Commenting on his plans for the future he added: "Every problem or challenge brings great opportunities. Currently developing a number of business opportunities built on simple principals of open-knowledge, free access to information and business built using the power of everyone."

Ford has also launched a new blog at bizznow.com. In the first entry, he said: "As an entrepreneur who has succeeded, failed and is now on the path to success again in business, I felt that sharing my experience, thoughts and ideas would be of value to entrepreneurs with a start-up venture through to people who are looking to gain a further competitive advantage by exploring the many new opportunities that the current economic challenges have presented."

Back in June, Ford left behind many customers who had bought gifts from the company but had not received them. He also left a letter to all customers apologising for

In the letter, he said: “Tragically, the debt of the business reached a level on Thursday June 18 that personal threats were being made against me and my family, which left me no choice but to leave four years of passion behind and take my family out of the country."

Through its website, Blue Banana sold alternative gifts such as skydiving and jet fighter flights.

Arabian Business was unable to contact Simon Ford for comment. His email account in LinkedIn is only accessible for paid-up account holders.

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James 10 years ago

So, if I can read this correctly. Simon is nice person. He set up a business in Dubai, spent more money than he had coming in on big computers, lots of staff, marketing the company all over the media etc etc. When it got to a stage when he was having his debts called in by people who needed paying, he fled the country. He is now starting again with a clean slate, no debts whilst the people in Dubai are still owed a lot of money and he is offering 'Business Consultancy Services'!!!!! How does this work!!??

Ametis 10 years ago

Simple Simon fled the country, leaving behind debts, and now he is a business consultant.. God help his clients

John 10 years ago

Well i can´t imagine he would be able to repay his debts by selling shawarmas in Birminghan and No business opportunity will come up if he tells that his previous venture crashed and burn due to a series of unforeseen circumstances. I don´t even know the guy but if he owed me money and was hoping any chance of repayment I would pray he makes some to repay me.

Rita 10 years ago

Why dont the Dubai authorities track him down in the Uk, bring him back to Dubai to face up / pay up to his creditors or face the consequences

Sama 10 years ago

Seems like a genuinely nice person to me. If he did run into insolvency situation, that means its impossible to solve. So all you whom are commenting all "smart alecy"!! Do you have solution for his insolvency? There are no bankruptcy laws here. He did say "sorry to his customers", which is worth millions to me. In the end, he had a choice, rot in the jail and not see his family VS flee and figure out the situation where he can breath... I think anyone would have taken the latter. Do note, that i am giving him the benefit of the doubt, that he is not a fraud, rather a genuine person stuck in a difficult situation.

BR 10 years ago

I agree with John: If this guy is to ever repay his debts in Dubai, not surprisingly, he'll have to make some money to do that. Unless he goes to work in McDonalds, and saves every dirham/pound for the next 100yrs, he'll need to start a proper business venture to ever make enough money for repayment.

JA 10 years ago

It's simple, create an extradition treaty with the UK and have these people come back to face the music. Nobody's is proud of failing, but running away is the biggest failure! Of course at the same time, somebody seriously needs to revamp the bankruptcy laws here .... as it stands now, only Dubai really loses out as people rack up debts, have a great time, get on a plane and say goodbye!

D 10 years ago

None of us really know the full story here, but do you think that if the UAE had bankruptcy laws which would support businesses & businessmen that fail (i.e. allow them to pay back owed money over period while still being blacklisted with creditors), that he would have left. Probably not ... the law here says, pay up or go to JAIL. Absurd and archaic if you ask me .... the same can be said for those who left cars at the airport. What would you rather do ... be banned from Dubai forever, or spend 6 months in JAIL bcause you lost you job????

Once Bitten 10 years ago

It's true that the laws of the UAE are only really geared towards absolute success or punishment. It's difficult to simply "try and fail". No real learning curve without consequences but you don't mismanage your finances and forward outlook with other people's money just because you are in a country that you can escape easily. Other companies go bust because companies like this siphon non-returnable revenue and slowly companies leech off the system. I worked for a similar events company that didnt pay many of their staff for months and took a different but also very wrong approach....keep working off the backs of free labour and false promises instead of shutting down when it was obvious that it was the smartest move. Now that's the other scenario....exploit workers for youthe owner's own benefit, instead of doing the right thing. Simon should have shut it down long in advance. I wish they would stop blaming the famous "recession" and blame themselves for not having any forward thinking when it comes to their company.

Jon 10 years ago

If you look at the career record of the most successful entrepreneurs, they all have had unsuccessful ventures. Does that excuse Simon Ford? probably not, his only real mistake in this entire thing was to have creative spirit in a country with archaic bankruptcy laws. If there was bankruptcy/prison protection, I'm sure he would still be here. Also, the millions of dollars of unpaid debts of UAE construction companies to UK firms has been wildly reported on Arabian Business News, with bargaining and carpet trading going on all around by said companies to get out of and reduce the debts. Doesn't that also equate tio running up huge bills and then not paying? What's good for Peter is good for Paul. Or Simon in this case...