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Canada's biggest Christmas decoration company, whose brands include Noma products and Icicle Lites, has gone out of business.

Alderbrook Industries Ltd. filed for bankruptcy yesterday with about $14-million in total liabilities.

Alderbrook, based in Pickering, Ont., manufactures and distributes a variety of Christmas lights, decorations and trees as well as Halloween and summer lights. The privately owned company also had licensing agreements with Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and Universal Studios to make products such as Winnie the Pooh lamps.

"It's an extremely bad day," said Charles Parker, the company president and co-owner.

"It's a company with a very long history. Unfortunately market conditions led to this current situation. This has all happened extremely quickly."

Mr. Parker said the company could not recover from a sharp slump in sales during the 2000 Christmas season.

"2000 was extremely difficult at the retail level," he said yesterday. "We are still hoping to try and continue as a going concern but that will be up to the receiver."

Alderbrook was founded in 1963 by Mr. Parker's father-in-law, John Rice. Mr. Rice is a former vice-president of Noma Industries Ltd. and he created Alderbrook after losing a bid to buy Noma in the early 1960s. He still owns the business along with his two sons, who are employees, and Mr. Parker. According to bankruptcy records, the company owes the men $212,000 in total.

In 1997, Alderbrook bought Noma's Christmas products division, which had been losing money for years. That deal tripled the size of Alderbrook and gave it a long line of brands.

Mr. Parker would not say how badly the company did in 2000, but he said it had been trying to find financing for the past few weeks. Bankruptcy records show the business owes Toronto-Dominion Bank $1.2-million and RoyNat Inc., a division of Bank of Nova Scotia, $2.3-million.

The bankruptcy came because of "our inability to secure sufficient financing to continue through 2002 under our existing setup," Mr. Parker said.

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