London’s #1 flute shop shuts after accountant is jailed

London’s #1 flute shop shuts after accountant is jailed


norman lebrecht

March 16, 2020

Sad message from Top Wind London:


It is with sadness that we have closed the doors at Top Wind for the last time after nearly thirty years in business. It has been a difficult decision but a number of factors have brought us to this point.

In 2003 we hired an accountant who carried out all our accounting needs until 2015 and we assumed he was operating within the rules laid out by HMRC. Sadly, we were informed in 2015 that he was imprisoned for malpractice and since that time HMRC has investigated all of his 7500 clients to reclaim all unpaid taxes. This has caused a devastating effect on many of us who are victims of his crime.

Those of you who wishing to continue having repairs carried out by Matt Ziemann will be pleased to know he will still be available for 5 days a week carrying out services, repairs and overhauls. To book your appointment ring him directly on 07973 142488.

Our administrative team will be in touch with you about any outstanding matters.

Thank you to our wonderful staff both past and present and to all our customers and suppliers throughout the World.



  • Richard Douglas says:

    Really sorry to hear this awful news a wonderful shop with a great team of people.

  • Jennifer Stinton says:

    Such a terrible shame. This was a wonderful shop that served the flute community with great service. I will particularly miss dropping in to see Andy and Patrick, the co-owners.

    • Esther Cavett says:

      It’s by Waterloo isn’t it ? I’m not a flute player but enjoyed looking round once. I suppose it’s important for companies to rotate their accountants every so often. It’s sad news

  • prof flute says:

    Lucky you people who have positive experiences. I found out that there were crooks in there a long time ago.

    • Prof Adrian Brett says:

      No one here has suggested there was anyone ‘in house’ who was a crook…and, if you are indeed a ‘prof flute’ , you should be ashamed to disseminate such a calumny….which I politely suggest could make you liable for litigation under the libel laws of the UK.
      ADRIAN BRETT (a real ‘prof flute’)

    • Mark in Mayenne says:

      A curious comment that doesn’t reflect my experience with these guys, who I have known for all the time they have been in business. I have however overheard them giving some very plain talking to people who have unwisely bought cheap flutes of poor quality and who wanted TopWind to put things right. Perhaps prof flute is a disgruntled one of these?

      • Prof flute 2 says:

        Seeing as they have been selling customers instruments for over 4 years and stealing the money, sometimes as much as £20k I believe crooks and thieves are the only words for them.

  • David Howell says:

    So very sad – no fault of Top Wind – a lovely shop

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    An ill wind blows no one any good.

  • Sara E. says:

    Takes after the us empire. Hustlers and hucksters

  • Rampant Rampals says:

    Flaunting flautist.

  • Carolyn Wheadon says:

    So shocked and sorry to hear this…. Will really miss bringing students to such a friendly and helpful flute shop. Thank you all for so many years of excellent advice and service.

  • Laura says:

    We need info please – you have a flute of ours that you were selling on my sons behalf. How do we get this back please

  • Kenneth Hawkins says:

    I am so sorry to learn of this. Unfortunately, I was once with an organization where our accountant embezzled very large sums of money and we had no idea. In any case, I wish you all the best. Ken Hawkins

  • Such terrible news. I remember popping into Top Wind on several occasions when I first came to London about 16 years ago after graduating, such nice people and so knowledgeable. A very sad end. Wishing you the best for the future.

  • Fionna says:

    So very sorry; I’ve dropped in and taken advice from Andy and Patrick so many times. Thank you for all your help and I’ll really miss you.

  • Pat Monro says:

    Devastated to hear the news, you have been part of my flute playing life for longer than I care to remember

  • Victoria Jefferson says:

    Gutted this shop has folded. However, I’ve tried to contact them to arrange to get my Murumatsu flute back that they were selling for me. Heard nothing, but Matt (repairs) promises me he has forwarded my messages. Starting to wonder what my next steps should be……?

    • Kristina says:

      They have a flute of mine too. Heard nothing.

    • Benjamin Copeman says:

      Victoria – I am in a similar position; have you heard anything further regarding return of item?

    • caroline says:

      Hello Victoria
      I am in a similar position- I have only just read today about the closure of the business. I may have had your Muramatsu 0708-XX-81 PTPRBE s/n 62652 on trial last year- were you asking £13000 before their commission? I know they have sold my Brannen Bros piccolo and said they were about to sell my Sankyo solid silver flute. I returned the Muramatsu as I felt it would be unfair to wait for the sale of my two instruments and prevent someone else from buying it. I do not know what the next step should be- I have e-mailed Patrick- but don’t expect to hear back. I am owed money for the piccolo and possibly for the flute- but I suspect we will all have to take advice if we don’t hear from anyone in the near future. I believe there are time lines for making claims- but if we were not told in good time- it would not have been possible to comply.
      Given the situation with covid- I had assumed they would have to close the shop to all customers for the immediate future and hadn’t wanted to bother them- now I wish I had.
      Kind regards


      • Cath says:

        Caroline. I had top of range Yamaha 874 with them. Turns out they sold it in 2015 and just never bothered to pay me !!!! It was sold for £3,100 so not a trivial amount. The liquidator has informed me that there is zero chance of getting this money. Needless to say I’m pretty angry

  • Caroline says:

    This is very sad. I used to drop in frequently, and had many a chat and cup of tea. This awful event at Top Wind may account for the difficulties I had retrieving my money for 3 student flutes they sold on my behalf a few years ago. They did eventually pay, but it took multiple emails, and stress on my part! I am massively relieved that I also decided to take back my very valuable gold flute (which they had had on their books to sell for 2 years), before the shop closed. What a crying shame…..

  • Eli says:

    Hi, I just found out about Top Wind closing (no notice by email or phone despite having my flute there for sale). Has anyone been able to get their flute back? Does anyone have any useful info?

  • Sheila Cochrane says:

    They have an alto flute of mine and I’m stuck up here in the north of Scotland – does anyone have any useful addresses – no one has been in touch – not sure what to do 🙁

  • Stan Batchelor says:

    Very sad as these guys were nice people and gave us an excellent service for a long long time. Anyone know what happens about items left with them to sell? They were not their property they just try and find buyers?mhence HMRC should not seize them to pay any taxes. I have Matts mobile number but he is service not the shop? If anyone I. top wind sees this and can help can they contact me Stan Batchelor or Kathy Batchelor 07962083351 ( our goods were worth around £4000) thank you

  • caroline says:

    I have just been informed by Top Wind’s Liquidator that the £5740 I am owed for the sale of my two instruments – a Brannen Brothers piccolo and a Sankyo flute- in December 2019 and after commission deducted- will not be forthcoming. I have been classed as an “unsecured creditor” and have no redress and there is no likelihood of any returns from the liquidation.
    Top Wind were trading as normal in December as far as I was aware and there was no indication of any financial difficulty and which they would surely have known about so late in the day. I knew my piccolo had been sold, but I was not contacted to be asked if I agreed to the sale price of the flute- considerably less than their original valuation- and I would not have done so. I was not informed that it had been sold. It would seem that this money is an inevitable piece of collateral damage to Top Wind, but it is a serious loss to me.
    These instruments were never the property of Top Wind- and I sincerely hope that nobody else finds themselves in this position. Good luck to all those of you who have instruments still for sale- they are still your property and I wish you every success in retrieving them.

    • Cath says:

      Yes, that is exactly what I heard from the liquidator. I don’t know if there is any other legal remedy. Also I’m not sure if the ‘crooks’ are the owners or the accountant. I think both tbh. Via companies house I have an Address for Andy and Patrick, I don’t know if the threat of legal action in small claims court would do anything, I’m guessing not. They have in effect stolen these goods/money from us

      • I’ve still not heard anything from Andy Thomson or Patrick Onn regarding my Altus alto flute, and am now considering reporting the flute as having been stolen.

        As Top Wind’s repair man Matt acknowledged in emails to me and others, commission sale instruments are not company assets when it comes to liquidation. In that case the withholding of instruments is surely theft under common law.

        If the liquidator is informing instrument owners that they have no claim against Top Wind, it may also be acting outside the law.

        I think those of us affected need to coordinate, and submit reports to the police. If anyone wishes to contact me, see my website for details.

        • Sue Primmer says:

          Hello Francis – we would like to coordinate with you. Can you tell me who the liquidators are? I have only just seen this notice after leaving my daughter’s Azumi flute there for resale by them in November 2019, value approx £850. I have a commission sale agreement but have heard nothing since. Like others, we left them alone during Coronavirus thinking firms had enough to deal with. I regret that.

        • Kathleen Stevenson says:

          I too have just discovered that Top Wind sold my piccolo in January. I did not receive any money. Will definitely co ordinate in a group action. Does anyone know when they actually went out of business?

          • Will says:

            Looks like it was somewhere around week beginning 9th March 2020. They were preparing to enter insolvency around 25th March 2020. The liquidator was officially appointed on 8th April 2020.
            The trading statement dated 25th March stated:-
            Trade & expense creditors: £50,960.28
            HMRC: £59,532.00
            TOTAL: £110,492.28

            Their stock was valued at £4362.

            The final liquidator’s report should detail a clearer picture of monies owed. It’s unlikely anyone (not even HMRC) will recover what they are owed.

            Consignment sales cause a big issue when companies go out of business because the instruments were never company assets.

          • Phil Barden says:

            please join this Facebook action group

  • Claire Wren says:

    Top Wind has a flute and 3 piccolos of mine. How do I get them back?

    • James says:

      It’s unlikely you can get them back or be paid for them if they were sold before the liquidators were appointed in April.

      In the announcement on their Web site they stated they were victims of a crime by their accountant.

      Over the past few months it has become apparent many people haven’t received instruments back or been paid for instruments that were sold; in some cases the amount they are owed is quite significant.

      This suggests their financial problems have been going on for considerably longer than they admitted.

      Instruments they were selling ‘on commission’ were never their property so it’s likely they fell outside of the liquidation process. The company went down owing over £100k in debt – the bulk of which was unpaid tax. Several people have been told they have no chance of recovering monies owed.

      There is a further thread on Facebook here:-

  • Claire Wren says:

    Further to my comment – I have now spoken with David Thornley. Despite these instruments not being assets of the company, he said they would have been sold prior to liquidation (what !!) He thought it very unlikely there will be any compensation forthcoming. These flutes belonged to my late father KEN DRYDEN. Thank goodness his original and adored Cooper flute wasn’t left at Top Wind but with another London company. My mother would be even more devastated.

  • Phil Barden says:

    I’ve had the same experience. David Thorniley sent me a sales receipt showing that Topwind had sold my Altus flute within a month of me placing it with them in early 2017. He also said that the sale was noted in their commission sales book. However, they neither informed me of the sale nor paid me the proceeds. I phoned them once a year to check on progress and, in 2019, the person I spoke to apparently retrieved the flute while I was on the phone to check on its condition and then said that they’d take it to a summer school as they often sold flutes there. So they were either lying or the sale receipt was fraudulent.
    I have received the same advice from David Thorniley i.e. you’re an unsecured creditor and there’s no likelihood of recovering what you’re owed.
    I am seriously considering reporting this as theft and am interested in joining any class action here.

    • CAROLINE EVANS says:

      Hi Phil
      I have asked an accountant friend of mine what his opinion is and he referred me to a case -published by OUT-LAW NEWS, dating back to 29/7/2016- ref: court-money-owed-by-insolvent-agent-to its-principle-not -held-on-constructive-trust. It isn’t straightforward to read, but I am wondering whether we, as a group, might have a case? The last two paragraphs are where there might be some room to manoeuvre, but I am not legally qualified and my friend is not hopeful that there would be any monies returned. HMRC is also an unsecured creditor- for what it is worth -and I would assume they would want to go after any chance they might have of retrieving their money!
      It seems quite fair to suggest that Top Wind directors have engaged in dishonesty with several customers, me included and over a long period of trading.
      I would be interested in joining any group action if people feel strongly enough and if there might still be a chance of redress. I would certainly pursue the case that, if the instruments for sale on commission were not classed as assets, then neither is the money they kept after commission taken- so why should those of us who have lost money like this be treated any differently to those with instruments- hopefully still on the premises and to be returned to their owners?
      The Liquidator is apparently obliged to investigate or at least look into any behaviour that might have been unlawful during trading, but I have had no contact with him since contacting him a couple of months ago.
      I can supply contact details if allowed on this site.
      Caroline Evans

  • Malcolm says:

    Top Wind have updated their web page:-

    “Commission Sale Items

    To arrange the return of commission sale items please contact The items can be collected or returned by Royal Mail special delivery which costs £12.”

  • Andrew says:

    It looks as though someone else has lost £7,500.00. It seems Top Wind’s financial difficulties are considerably higher than they admitted and have probably been going on far longer than the last few months.

    And Adrian Brett boldly stated earlier in the comments there was nobody ‘in house’ who was a crook…

    • Adrian Brett says:

      And clearly I was wrong and I apologise unreservedly. Like so many who have been taken in by the general bonhomie that existed in Top Wind. I merely cautioned the writer to be careful what was written but that was of course before the whole sorry state of affairs became clearer. Andy Thompson was a former student of mine and I felt, at the time the first posts were written, that it was unfair to malign a person/persons without evidence. That has now been provided by several people and I and many others have been shown that what appeared to be two pleasant and helpful individuals masked a sinister scheme by two consummate con artists who, when in a vortex of financial ruin, used innocent people’s property in a vain and facile attempt at business recovery. Not the first time desperate measures have been adopted by individuals faced with financial ruin and hiding behind The Companies Act so that their personal assets are still retained.

  • Woodwind Web says:

    Hi for everyone who has a commission flute at Top Wind that has not been returned, or has got payment for it, I have created this FaceBook group,so we all can take action againt them.

  • Andrene Bolger says:

    So sorry to hear this sad news.

  • Phil Barden says:

    If anyone has been de-frauded by Topwind i.e. they sold your flute on a commission sales basis and didn’t pay you then please join our action group here. So far we have found more than £113,000 worth of monies owing.