Store First and Park First accounts filed: £42m net loss, £31m net liabilities, £62m provision made for repaying Park First investors

The Group First group of companies, comprising the unregulated store pod investment scheme Store First and the unregulated car park space investment scheme Park First, has just filed the group’s accounts for the period ending June 2017.

Some selected highlights of the accounts follow. Anyone seeking a full picture of the companies’ accounts should consult the originals on Companies House, where they can be downloaded for free.

Group First Global Ltd, the holding company (note: the following are the results for the group, rather than the individual Group First Global Ltd company)

  • Total turnover was £163m. Cost of sales was £185m, meaning that the group was making a gross loss of £22m before we even get to overheads. After overheads (administrative expenses), the group made a loss of £44m, with the final loss after tax and interest being £42m.
  • toby whittaker
    Toby Whittaker, Managing Director and 100% owner of Group First Global Ltd

    Despite Group First’s heavy losses, ordinary dividends of £250,000 were paid. These would have been paid to Group First Global Limited’s sole shareholder, which is Toby Whittaker. Note that there is nothing illegal about this because Group First Global as a company had retained earnings from previous years, even though the group as a whole had negative earnings.

  • In 2017, Park First was ordered by the FCA to stop promoting a collective investment scheme without authorisation, and instead allowed to restructure its investment offering as a “lifetime leaseback” scheme. Investors have two options: either continue in the lifetime leaseback scheme, which means that instead of receiving a “guaranteed” 8% per annum return as originally promised, they receive 2%pa plus variable dividends depending on profitability. (Park First was, and remains, heavily loss-making – see below.) Or receive their money back, minus any returns already paid to them, after at least a year.
  • Group First Global has made a provision of £62 million in its accounts for making repayments to investors under both these options.
  • After allowing for this provision, Group First is £31 million in the red (net liabilities). They would have had net assets of £29 million had this provision not been needed.
  • The Government has lodged a petition to wind up the Store First companies. Group First intends to defend this petition, and has put in place a provision of £2 million to cover the cost of doing so.
  • Group First’s previous auditors, Pierce C.A. Limited, resigned in September 2017. The latest accounts are audited by the new auditors, Lopian Gross Barnett & Co.

Park First Limited

  • Total turnover in the period was £18m. Cost of sales was £41m, meaning that the company was making a loss before we even get to overheads. The final loss after overheads, interest and tax was £30 million.
  • Net liabilities were £30.2 million.
  • With Park First failing to even cover the gross cost of its services, even before overheads are taken into account, it is clear that a significant turnaround will be needed before there is a prospect of dividends for investors who opt for the lifetime leaseback option.

Store First Limited

  • Store First Limited made a gross profit of £1.1 million on turnover of £4.0 million. After overheads, however, it made a £7.1 million net loss.
  • Net liabilities were £14 million, consisting of £466k debtors (mostly trade debtors and amounts owed by other Group First companies), minus £12.2m creditors (mostly amounts owed to other Group First companies) and a £2m provision for liabilities.
  • In regard to the winding up petition, the directors state “On the 1 August 2017 a hearing was scheduled in High Court by the Insolvency Service calling for a petition to wind up Store First Limited. The result of this hearing led to an adjournment. Subsequently it remains uncertain whether Store First will remain trading or enter into insolvency proceedings. The outcome of this is likely to be reached after a period of 12 months and while this casts significant doubt on the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern in the long term future, it does not cast significant doubt on the entity’s ability to continue trading for the forseeable future.”

Group First has a number of other subsidiaries, which I will summarise very quickly below as they were exempt from filing full accounts under the small companies regime, so little meaningful information is available. “No P&L” indicates the company did not file a profit and loss statement.

  • The following subsidiaries were all listed as dormant: Residential First Ltd, Select Escapes Ltd, B1 Workspace Ltd, Group First International Sbn Bhd (registered in Malaysia), Store First Singapore Branch and Park First Singapore Branch (both registered in Singapore).
  • Simonstone Parking Limited – no P&L, net assets £53k
  • Park First Skyport Limited – no P&L, net assets minus £21.5 million
  • Store First St Helens Ltd – no P&L, net assets £450k
  • Equestrian First Ltd – no P&L, net assets £6.7 million
  • Ground Rental Ltd – no P&L, net assets minus £27k
  • SFM Services Ltd (formerly Store First Management Limited) – £19k profit, £765 net assets
  • Business First Ltd – no P&L, net assets minus £1.4 million
  • Park First Management Ltd – no P&L, net assets £9k
  • Help Me Park Gatwick Ltd – no P&L, net assets minus £16 million
  • Cophall Parking Gatwick Ltd – no P&L, net assets minus £16 million
  • Help-Me-Park.com Ltd – no P&L, net assets £506k
  • London Luton Airport Parking Ltd – no P&L, net assets £11 million


Conclusion

Park First investors who opt for the new “leaseback” scheme paying 2% and variable dividends will clearly have to hope for a remarkable turnaround in Park First Limited’s profitability, given that as at the date of its last accounts it doesn’t even cover the cost price of offering its car park spaces, according to its accounts.

As for those who opt to receive their initial investment back, they face a long wait (at least a year, plus however long it takes for Park First to transfer the title to their parking space) while they hope that Park First has enough money to pay them back, despite the significant net liabilities reported by Park First and its associated companies.

54 thoughts on “Store First and Park First accounts filed: £42m net loss, £31m net liabilities, £62m provision made for repaying Park First investors

  1. Do you still stick to the above? Is there any knowledge of how thing have gone on in the last five months? How many life time lease back plans has park first been able to convert to?

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  2. All of the above info was taken from Group First’s own accounts or those of its subsidiaries, so still stands. The next set of accounts will be due in March 2019.

    The last public news was in May 2018 when the government sent questionnaires to Store First investors in preparation for the winding up court hearing which is still due to be heard. No date set for that to my knowledge.

    No idea on the Park First leaseback arrangements.

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  3. I am a park first investor who opted for early redemption but on further investigation it was discovered the original sale to myself never actually completed and so we are to get a refund. I’ve been told this is simpler – no need for a solicitor on my side for example – but I still must wait the calendar year. By the date of my confirmation email this is the 11th of December but Park First are saying it’s the 22nd.

    Apart from everything you’ve rightly pointed out above, I’m suspicious of a strange date – the Saturday just before the holiday period for the deadline and the conspiracy theorist in me suspects the date may well come and go and the office shut down over the holidays with nobody contactable. I wonder how many people have been given the 22nd December as a deadline for payment, open question to anyone who might happen to read this?

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  4. This sounds very suspicious. Who told you you dont need a solicitor? Was that someone from First. Everyone who has invested in Store or Park and Residential have all been sold a song….a full investigation of this company is long overdue.

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  5. Lucky Shot, They have your money and the chances of getting it back is non-existent. These people are S%^4%£, and writing to them is useless.

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  6. Park First are most reluctant to honour the buy back they offered me for my Glasgow parking space.
    I get the feeling it will be a cold day in hell before they settle even though they have been instructed to.
    Toby Whittaker paying himself £250k for running a fraudulent scheme and no one blinks an eye.
    My MP doesn’t care and neither does any one else it seems.

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  7. Hi , has anybody invested their sipp through a company called – The Positive retirement potential plan.
    have you gone through the same upheaval as myself e.g no feedback n/ zero response from the sole
    director of the company , who seems to have disappeared of the radar.. I am seeking advice , but its a long drawn out process to try and get my money back , as the above company were not regulated .

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  8. Complain to the SIPP provider that they failed in their duty to do due diligence. Then take it to the FOS if necessary. As there’s no regulated adviser, this is the same position as with Carey / Berkeley Burke SIPPs.

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  9. luckysh0t (here’s hoping you ticked the notify button…) Did you ever receive any money? I am acting as executor for the estate of a relative who ‘invested’ with Park First. Like you the purchases never completed, so this was meant to be a ‘simple’ refund (minus historic payments and various other trimmings). Again I was told I had to wait, in my case until 15 Jan 2019 initially, later altered by Park First to the 25th January. Obviously no refund has been forthcoming.

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  10. Hi , Has anybody who optied for the buy back or lifetime leaseback option with Park / group first , on car park space investment received any of there money back , does anybody know what the current state of play is , so to speak.

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  11. It is March 2019 now and really look forward to get an update of Group First P&L. Appreciate the owner of this post to provide an update when available.

    I am also an overseas investor who opts for buyback option. It is very discomforting to see all the comments and fact.

    If they have made provision. Then they should have money to pay. Hopefully they have also make provision for 2018.

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  12. It is March 2019 now and really look forward to get an update of Group First P&L. Appreciate the owner of this post to provide an update when available.

    The most recent accounting period for the Group First companies closed in June 2018 and the next set of accounts must legally be filed by the end of March. So three weeks’ time. If and when the accounts are published I’ll publish an update when I’ve had time to analyse them.

    If they have made provision. Then they should have money to pay.

    Not in accounting terminology. If you’re preparing a company’s annual accounts and you’re legally obliged to return x million to someone in the forseeable future, you have to include a provision. Whether you have enough money to meet that provision is not the accountant’s problem.

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  13. I am not an investor in Store First but I am a customer as I have a substantial amount of personal effects stored with them whilst I am overseas. Should I be concerned about the future fate of this company and relocate my goods? I am overseas and have been a long-term customer for many years.and have been given a very reasonable rental rate. I welcome informed advice on this.

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  14. When a company pays thirty percent commission to sales consultants to shift their product, how can it be a good investment? When a company pays this level of commission to a master agent who has a long history of selling failed investments to the public, you have to ask yourself, why did the company do this? If you dig deep and conduct thorough research into the master agent for the airport car parking investment,you will open up a can of worms.

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  15. An acquaintance of mine, was enthusing about this investment opportunity,which got me curious enough, to research a little, I wasn’t prepared for the scale of the catastrophes, endured by those who sadly invested, in investments connected to Mr Toby Whittaker. There are pages of very distressed investors on MSE forum, all hoping to get their money back, which with this, individual is very unlikely.As the acquaintance pointed out, it all seemed legit, legit or not, it looks as though youv’e lost most if not all your money. Grossly unfair, and likely to be repeated

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  16. Why is this allowed, The sale/agents are all living the dream on 30,*% commission. Mostly from people’s hard earned pensions.
    They should hang their heads in shame.
    Bastards

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  17. For those investors of Park First who opts for the buyback option and I am one of them. Mine is going to be due by Aug 2019 with the contract done by Evershed Sutherland on behalf of Park First.

    I wonder if there are anyone has the buyback agreement execution date earlier than mine and anyone has successfully complete the buyback.

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  18. There’s a long running thread on MoneySavingExpert – ParkFirst Early Redemption – Thread for any reports of successful redemptions – where there currently aren’t any reports of being paid back.

    That however does not mean nobody has been paid back because someone might be paid back and not feel the need to go looking for threads on the Internet so they can say so.

    I don’t know why people get hung up about whether others have been paid back anyway. If Park First owes you money then it owes you money. If for whatever reason it doesn’t pay what it owes, then saying “but you paid this other guy” is unlikely to help.

    Group First’s latest accounts are available to read on Companies House. I’ll aim to have an article up analysing them within the next week or so. A few highlights: the provision for repayment to Park First investors has ballooned to £111m, up from £60m when the article above was written. But net liabilities remain almost unchanged at £32.4 million. The increase in assets which balances the increase in liabilities consists mainly of £27m of goodwill, which was apparently paid to put a number of other Whittaker companies under the Group First umbrella (more on that later), and a £31m increase in the value of “investment properties”, on which point the accounts contradict themselves.

    What this means for Park First investors will not become clear until their repayments fall due and they are either paid or not.

    It will not be clear to outsiders whether other investors have completed their buybacks until either a) the provision is removed from Group First’s accounts, confirming they have paid them all off successfully, or b) Park First goes into administration, confirming they haven’t.

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  19. Thank you Brev for following up on this thread. I guess it is just nice to be link up with other investors and exchange information. It is kind of a… Meditating act.. Understand it probably doesn’t really help.

    Wonder if anyone who contacted Fca got any reply at all.

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  20. As anyone been approached by Hershelescrow about an offer from a Chinese company to buy your parking spaces?

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  21. As anyone been approached by Hershelescrow about an offer from a Chinese company to buy your parking spaces?

    Yes Yes Yes

    Definate scam ignore at all cost!

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  22. Clearly we are all dealing with ‘crooks’ here. Yes I agree that Hershelescrow is a scam, unfortunately.
    The sooner all these ‘scum’ are eradicated from the face of the world, the better a place it will be.
    However people need to park at airports and whenever I pass them the car-parks are pretty much full, why Park First has made such a ‘balls’ of it I fail to understand, it should have been simple to make money from parking cars.
    I think our only hope is that a reputable company buys out Park First and the business gets to be properly run. For Christ’s sake are there any takers!

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  23. Hi, I’ve been recently approciated by Hershelescrow. I am an Italian investor ripped off by Park First.
    Could you please let me know why Hershelescrow is a scam? Many thanks for the info

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  24. Because when someone asks you to hand over a load of money on the pretense that they’ll then pay you a much larger sum of money, after which they disappear with your money, that’s a scam.

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  25. Hello, does anyone served a statutory demand to Group First? I am seriously taking into consideration this option.

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  26. Do you really think these people would take any notice of such a demand. We are dealing with the scum of the earth!

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  27. Hi.. Wouldn’t it make sense for all those affected complain to legal ombudsman and business ombudsman?

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  28. I’d like to think so but my experience of dealing with these channels is they get one nowhere. It seems such courses are deliberately manned with foreigners, who cannot speak clear English a and do not have sufficient knowledge of English law, and therefore form a barrier to the solution.

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  29. If you mean the Financial Ombudsman, only if you invested via a SIPP or an FCA-regulated financial adviser. The investment itself is not regulated and any complaints about it to the FOS will be rejected out of hand.
    The Legal Ombudsman would only be relevant if you have a complaint against a registered solicitor.

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  30. Hi thank you.. Isn’t one of the issues that legal. I. E jwk solicitors supported the company and gave false sense of security

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  31. What exact assurances did JWK solicitors give you?

    Having a solicitor is no assurance of legitimacy or security. Mass murderers and child molesters can hire solicitors (and have a legal right to). Solicitors are not responsible for their clients’ actions or liabilities.

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  32. @David: probably you are rigth:It is very likely “Statutory demand” would not have any reply from Park First, however, I want to make any tentative to recover my money. If you have additional idea/suggestions please share. Thanks:

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  33. I also want to recover my money, and I am trying establish whether I have a route to recovering it due to professional negligence by JWK solicitors who acted for Parkfirst.
    If I may ask who are you?

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  34. Sure you can. I am a small investor with limited knowledge of English language and even less comprehension of UK law. I’ve written to UK embassy in Italy, to Italian embassy in UK, to Action fraud police, to insolvency service (uk.gov), I had also invested (spent?) additional 900 GBP to hire an UK lawyer that only send a letter to Park First.
    All the above had no results, so I also make the tantative to submitt a “Statutory demand”.
    I am still evaluating the possibility to fly over UK and ” chain mayself” to the Park First gate until they will give my money back (I am joking, eh!)

    What about you and the rest of the people in this chat?
    Regards

    Liked by 1 person

  35. There are solicitors that want to take them to the high court to put them into liquidation ,take JWK solicitors to court for negilence and for those on the buy back to get the refund .The costs to do this even in a group could be expensive for a high court hearing . I have a space at mac Dowall Street ,Glasgow that is closed because they cannot fill it but I got the 2 % dividend .I doubt that will continue .

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  36. I recently received an e-mail from eversheds-sutherland in response to my Satutory demand
    It seems they are lawyers that defend Group First.
    Does anyone know who they are?
    Many thanks

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  37. Eversheds is a very big multinational law firm. The email you have had is almost certainly genuine if that’s what you’re wondering.

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  38. Is there no way that disgruntled investors can get together and take some form of collective action if the BuyBack is not honoured?

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  39. These people need to be brought to justice, they are unworthy businessmen and should not be allowed to get away with it. However in order to get sufficient ‘clout’ it would be necessary to get the FCA/FCO on board, and they have appeared to have washed their hands of it.

    My understanding from Ruth Almond is that in about 4 weeks time there will be a recovery plan issued to all investors. Group First/Park First will not pay out in full 62 million pounds is no where near enough. Park First is still trading and people need parking at airports, although it’s no secret that this year has is seeing a downturn due mainly to Brexit. In my view there is no reason why airport car parking should not pay if properly run, unfortunately we are cursed with people some of whom are crooked and some incompetent. The best we can hope for is for a take-over and a road to recovery properly established.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. This company are making money from us in schemes,that have no chance of succeeding, as they have so many companies they shuffle the money from one to another.
    I rang the company and was told everything was running normally,which I didn’t believe.
    I rang Ruth Almond director and was assured that all was well and not going into liquidation,so not only are they liars and criminals, they are feathering their nests ,at all our expenses.
    This company should be in court,and get their just deserts.

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  41. Hi Greg , Im sorry to hear about your investment worries , there are solicitors out there who can help and things might be turning in favour of investors like yourself , so all is not lost. Ruth and her Boss , Toby have led us all a merry dance for a good while and made millions on the back of it. I was foolish enough to invest my money in there scheme’s , but their maybe a chance of getting back your money if you goto the right solicitor. Good Luck.

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  42. “… things might be turning in favour of investors …” would that were true. Scamming has become a high return, low risk business for scammers because the authorities are impotent and justice is never served.

    Brev recently reported, in the Park First blog of July 8th, “…Park First, by contrast, was shut down by the FCA in late 2017, who deemed Park First’s business model was an illegal unauthorised collective investment scheme.” What stands out are two things, first, the FCA deemed the business model was “illegal” and second all they did was “shut it down”. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong but I thought if you do something illegal you were prosecuted? Not when running a scam it seems. Just change the business model and carry on. Seriously?

    Scams have been rife this decade, particularly those siphoning UK defined benefit pensions which prompted the Pensions regulator to launch its Scorpion Campaign in 2013 but it’s effectiveness leaves much to be desired. Scams continue. I could list several.

    Just recently the FCA reported that last year, in 2018 alone, people lost £197m to investment scams! https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-warns-public-investment-scams-over-197-million-reported-losses-2018

    In Feb, the Pensions Regulator referred to “Organised crime groups led by married couples or families are running pension scams worth millions of pounds” – https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/media-hub/press-releases/fraudster-families-running-multimillion-pound-pension-scams

    Authorities throughout this decade have known of scams; they launched “campaigns” to thwart the rising tide of scams; used phrases like “illegal schemes” and “organised crime” but how many people have been prosecuted? How many victims have seen justice? How many people facing financial ruin have successfully got their money back?

    I was caught up in a scam in 2015. Two of the actors in my scam are on record for making circa £1m generating 200 leads per month for the Capita Oak & Henley scam, promoting Store First storage pods, between 2012 and 2014. They moved on from generating leads to creating their own offshore, unregulated collective in 2014 – where my pension ended up – and now the two have moved on again to the lucrative “mini bond” business model and their strategic partner being none other than Surge Financial! (Brev has reported extensively on these).

    It’s now 2019! Almost a decade of participation in and.or orchestration of scams. What have the authorities done to date? Didly Squat!

    It would be nice, comforting even, to believe “… things might be turning in favour of investors …”. I am very skeptical. A skepticism forged from bitter experience.

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  43. This is all so sad , made worse by the promise of money back from Park First /Store First that will never be forthcoming, i was contacted about 4 years ago by an American trying to get me to put £20,000 into
    Store first but when I pushed him on the sq ft of space I would be buying I realised the figs did not add up. You would end up investing 20k to purchase the equivalent of roughly a 20Ft shipping container. This will NEVER give a decent return. I happen to Own a storage site in a prime location in the Southeast. The maximum that can be earned is £20 a week or £1,000 per year from this space .Thus the sales pitch has to be a scam . FIVE MINUTES OF DUE DILIGENCE IS ALL IT TOOK TO CHECK ON THE COMPANY AND ITS BOSS, TOBY WHITTAKER . HIS TRACK RECORD IS THERE FOR ALL TO SEE , a director of 56 companies most of which have gone bust .

    Why don’t people do half an hours checking on these people be for handing over thousands of their hard earned money. !

    Mr Whittaker will roll up his carpet and move on to the next scam ,until one day he is found Face down in a canal , put there by somebody he Scammed probably.

    Like

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