Controversial storage pods sold by Official Receiver

Controversial storage pods sold by Official Receiver

Store First’s 15 storage centres have been sold to Store First Freeholds Limited, a company owned by embattled entrepreneur Toby Whittaker’s wife.

The Lancashire Telegraph have reported that Store First’s associated assets of 15 storage centres have changed hands. The assets of the service company, SFM Services, have been transferred to Pay Store Limited.

 

What happened to Store First?

Last year the Insolvency Service took legal action which saw Store First, Store First Blackburn, Store First St Helens and SFM Services officially wound up.

The proceedings against the Padiham-based outfits, which were prompted by concerns over their investment model, covered storage centres in Blackburn and Burnley, alongside 13 other locations.

Store First hit headlines after a client of Carey Pensions raised concerns with the investment. Carey Pensions advised Russell Adams to invest into the storage pods through a SIPP. He was introduced by a Spain-based unregulated introducer. Adams invested £50,000 into the pods in July 2012. His investment is now worthless.

 

What is happening to Store First now?

The new owners of the assets, Store First Freeholds Limited and Pay Store Limited, are wholly owned by Jennifer Whittaker, the wife of Store First CEO Toby Whittaker. Whittaker is not only in deep water for Store First, as he is currently being investigated in relation to accusations he duped savers in an “illegal” £230m airport car parking scheme, Park First.

The Official Receiver, who manages the first stages of bankruptcies and companies being wound up by a court, said that the assets being sold to a new company “represented the best outcome for creditors”.

There is still an ongoing investigation into the cause of the collapse of the Store First investment opportunity, according to the Insolvency Service. Over £200m was invested in Store First from UK pension funds and elsewhere, according to the Government’s solicitor in the winding up case.

An Insolvency Service spokesman stated:

The purchasers have confirmed that they intend to continue renting the self-storage units to end-users and that Pay Store will continue to manage the storage sites on a day-to-day basis using the name Store First.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands that an agreement is said to have been drawn up between the Official Receiver and Store First which would give six months for the ongoing purchases of any storage pods, not legally verified before the liquidation, to be concluded.

This deal would also see any requests by investors to surrender their pods accepted, with Pay Store covering any of the associated costs but no payments being issued to the former owners.

Storage pods which are deemed to be unusable can also be exchanged for a facility of the same size and dimension, it has been concluded, subject to availability.

A spokesman for the Insolvency Service also said of the matter:

As liquidator of Store First and the associated companies, the Official Receiver has a duty to realise the assets in the interests of the creditors.

“The sale of the freehold, associated assets and goodwill of the 15 storage centres to Store First Freeholds Limited, as well as the sale assets of SFM Services Limited to Pay Store Limited, represented the best outcome for creditors.

 

How can Smooth Law Commercial help?

We are acting for a number of clients who were advised by both regulated and unregulated advisors to transfer money out of their traditional pension into a SIPP, and to then invest significant sums of money with Store First Limited.

For most, this investment was completely unsuitable as it was an unregulated collective investment scheme and therefore only appropriate for high net worth individuals or sophisticated investors.

At Smooth Commercial Law, our team of experts have extensive experience in dealing with a whole manner of claims that arise from negligent and/or unsuitable financial advice. We are seeing an increase in claims for investments like Store First, and have managed to secure compensation for many of our clients.

Should you have a claim, we can deal with your case and look to recover compensation for not just your loss of investment but also any adverse tax liabilities that you may now be facing as well.

You can contact our experienced team by calling 0800 046 9976 or by emailing sb@smooth-commercial-law.co.uk.

For more information on Store First click here.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.