Designer Vision Group has begun High Court proceedings against the £15m turnover business, based in Welwyn Garden City, for alleged misuse of confidential information and infringement of its UK and European design rights.
Andrew Mintern, Designer Vision’s finance director, says that the claim relates to a rear seat in-car entertainment system developed by Designer Vision in partnership with Centurion while pitching for a contract with a major car manufacturer.
“Despite attempts to resolve this matter, the management of Centurion have been unwilling to offer any financial settlement and we have been left with no option but to launch proceedings,” says Mintern.
He is seeking an injunction preventing further sales of the screen, plus damages for lost profits. Both companies have major contracts with a number of carmakers’ UK divisions.
Centurion supplies roof-mounted screens for Kia Motors UK, Toyota, Lexus, Peugeot and Citroen. Designer Vision’s seat rear screens are used by Ford, Volvo and BMW/Mini, plus it retails portable systems through Ford dealers and lifestyle stores such as Toys R Us, Virgin Megastores, Harrods and Selfridges.
The writ comes at a bad time for Centurion. Last month it warned investors that its previous six months’ sales performance was poorer than had been forecast, albeit still up on the previous year. Also, a returned order from a high street chain has left the company with excess stock. As a result, Centurion anticipates a £1.4m write-down in its first half year figures plus a further write-down of up to £1m in the second half. Nevertheless, its management remain upbeat about future prospects.
“The board is pleased to announce that Toyota Motor Marketing Europe has signed a development request to supply two new European models with bespoke in-car entertainment systems,” adds its statement.
Centurion managing director Chris Rhodes had not returned AM’s calls as we went to press. However a PR spokeswoman says the company will “vigorously defend” the case.