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Please be advised we have unpublished this press release following legal advice that its contents are capable of being misinterpreted.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:
The update is much terser than the one originally published and then “unpublished” referred to above.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.