A court date has finally been set for the Government's winding up petition against Store First and related companies.
The winding up petition was originally announced back in July 2017, but was then adjourned. The trial is now due to take place on 15 April 2019 (almost two years after the original announcement) at the Manchester District Registry of the High Court.
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.
Store First offered investors the opportunity to invest in storage pods with the promise of an 8% "guaranteed" return in the early years.
The returns have long since dried up; an investor has told us that they received the promised "guaranteed" returns for 12 months but these payments then stopped. We are not aware of any owner of a Store First pod successfully selling their investment either back to Store First or a third party. With no yield and no secondary market, this means Store First pods are effectively worthless.
On top of this, Store First has recently written to investors to tell them that they are liable to pay business rates to Barnsley Council (and not, as the Valuation Office had previously argued, Store First itself).
Park First previously offered investments in airport car parking spaces with a "guaranteed" yield of 8% in the first two years, followed by "projected yields" of 10% in years 3 and 4 and "projected yields" of 12% in years 5 and 6.
Park First is part of the Group First group of companies, which also owns Store First, which offered a very similar scheme offering "projected returns" of 8% in the first two years.
The Financial Conduct Authority took the view that Park First was promoting a collective investment scheme without authorisation and in December Park First agreed to stop promoting the original schemes and move to a "lifetime leaseback" model, which the FCA agreed was not a collective investment scheme, and therefore
not its problem not an activity requiring FCA authorisation.
Money Marketing has now seen details of the new investment and reports that it "offers investors a fixed 2 per cent annual yield plus variable dividends from the management company’s profits."
Store First offers investors the opportunity to invest in self storage “pods” with a guaranteed return of 8% per annum in years 1 and 2, 10% in years 3 and 4 and 12% per annum thereafter.
Continue reading for a review of the Store First investment opportunity.