Store First reaches out-of-court settlement with Government, four companies to be wound up

The Insolvency Service’s petition to wind up five Store First companies has concluded with Store First and the Insolvency Service mutually agreeing that four of the companies will be wound up. A fifth, Store First Midlands, will be allowed to continue trading.

Store First’s self storage business in general will continue in operation.

On 30 April the Insolvency Service published an account of the court winding up which included a number of comments about Store First’s business practices. It then withdrew it the day after. It told a number of papers who had picked up the story:

Please be advised we have unpublished this press release following legal advice that its contents are capable of being misinterpreted. You are advised not to use any content from it.

Newspapers including the Lancashire Telegraph and FT Adviser subsequently withdrew the stories they had published based on that press release.

A spokesman for Store First said:

Store First is delighted to confirm that an out of court agreement has been reached with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which allows the Store First storage business to continue in operation with the current management company, Pay Store, running the operations of all its 15 storage centres in: Barnsley, Blackburn, Burnley, Derby, Ellesmere Port, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Mansfield, Northampton, Preston, Rochdale, St Helens, Wakefield.

Where all this leaves Store First investors, who invested in Store First on the promise of 8% “guaranteed returns” in the first two years, rising to 10% and 12% “projected returns” in the next four years, is unclear.

As part of the investment they leased the “storage pods” to either Store First Limited or SFM Services Limited in return for the “guaranteed / projected returns”. Both these companies are among the four to be wound up.

At time of writing the Insolvency Service has not yet published a revised announcement regarding the winding up.

Update 2 May 2019:

A new update was published by the Insolvency Service on 2 May 2019.

The update is much terser than the one originally published and then “unpublished” referred to above. The new update largely states the bare facts described above regarding the winding up of the four companies.

In regard to the fact that the storage business will be allowed to continue in operation, the Insolvency Service states:

The Official Receiver has confirmed that Pay Store Limited will continue providing services to allow people to store and remove items while a longer-term solution is found for the business.

The need for a “longer-term solution for the business” was not mentioned by the Store First spokesperson.

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5 thoughts on “Store First reaches out-of-court settlement with Government, four companies to be wound up

  1. When did “unpublished” become a verb? Presumably if the press release had been horrendously libellous it would have been double-plus-unpublished? I have visions of the owners of the Lancashire Telegraph and FT Adviser being summoned to MiniTru for re-education…

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  2. Does anyone have further information as to exactly what is happening with the investment. A company search against each of the companies that are said to be in liquidation with the Official Receiver appointed as the liquidator suggests that each company remains active and there is no suggestion of any liquidation. It all seems so strange to me and I was wondering if anyone had anything that could throw light on to the situation.

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  3. There was an update on https://www.gov.uk/government/news/store-first on 4 July but very little appears to have actually been added. The update may have been to warn people about “third parties who have wrongfully claimed that they are the liquidators of the companies” (i.e. fraud recovery scams).

    But the position remains that the four companies positioned are in liquidation.

    In the absence of any further news from the Government, the lack of movement on Companies House simply means that the Official Receiver has not yet submitted the paperwork to Companies House confirming that they are in liquidation.

    There were a couple of electronic filings for Store First Limited on 30 April, the day of the liquidation – Leanne Gregson and Ruth Almond were removed as directors.

    If you’re an investor I’d suggest putting your feet up and writing off the investment rather than waiting for news. The process could take years and recoveries may be nil or minimal.

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  4. A winding up order for Store First Limited was filed with Companies House today.

    The full document isn’t visible at time of writing, but from experience I suspect it will just confirm what we already know from the Government’s announcement.

    As I suspected, it doesn’t appear the lack of activity on Companies House meant anything other than the time it takes to process the paperwork.

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  5. Personally, it would be advantageous to me if the Company had been declared insolvent or ordered to cease trading since I have not received any income for several years but have received indications from the local authority that they may require payment of a business rate. Meantime, I am obliged tp pay ground rent. Worse still, I receive various communications re: sale of store pods including offer well in excess of the purchase price. Some of these emanate from outside the UK and it becomes evident that the firms involved require up front payments e.g legal fees, fiduciary insurance etc. often in excess of the original purchase price. All apparent scams to be avoided and akin to pensions etc. and the regulatory authorities do nothing or seem to be ‘toothless’. At least, if liquidated I could write off against any capital gain and make some recovery.

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