Stunned shop owners given two weeks to move their businesses out of Wirral garden centre
STUNNED traders were given just two weeks to move their businesses out of a Wirral garden centre.
Fourteen independent traders, based at Burton Nurseries, near Neston, were told last Thursday that administrator KPMG had decided to close the struggling business on March 23.
In a letter given to tenants, KPMG said it had tried but failed to find a buyer for a quick sale after being called in on February 3.
The administrator also pinned the blame on the “dilapidated” condition of the premises and said an inspection showed it needed costly health and safety improvements.
Tenants based on the site told the News they had offered to pay more rent and complete the repairs themselves in a bid to keep the site open.
Paul Tyson, who runs furniture business Chunky Wood, said: “This will not just affect the people who work here. I employ 10 lads in our factory making the furniture because we do not import anything.”
Doreen McGrae, who runs antiques store Vintage Treasures, said: “We knew the administrator had been called in but there was no hint at all they were going to close it down. We are all absolutely devastated.”
Clive Bibby, owner of Help 2 Hear, said: “I feel like the rug has been pulled from under me. Everyone here has tried extremely hard to build up their business and give customers a good service.”
Three employees of the garden centre will be made redundant.
KPMG said the independent businesses on the Chester High Road site all operated under an implied “tenancy at will” which was being terminated.
The letter given to tenants read: “While we appreciate that this is likely to be a significant issue for your business, the company’s neglect in maintaining the site has left us with little option.”
Jan Comley, of Comley Patio and Paving, said: “It has not quite sunk in yet. We have offered to pay them more money.
“All we can do is try to find somewhere else.”
Rod Heron, who opened Le Premier Coffee Bar in 2008, said: “The administrator came in last month but we heard nothing else until the meeting they called on Thursday telling us the site was closing.
“They issued us with letters telling us that if we did not agree to vacate we would be classed as trespassers.
“They said there were fire regulation and health and safety regulation issues but they could not tell us figures or how much it would cost to put right.
“People were shocked and angry. I have 12 members of staff and an awful lot of regular customers.
“We did think there would be more time. Moving everything out of here is too much to think about.
“The general feeling is that there might be a buyer out there but they want vacant possession.”
In a statement Paul Flint, joint administrator and associate partner at KPMG in the North West, said: “Having been unable to secure a buyer and given the health and safety improvements required on the site Burton Garden Nurseries will cease trading in two weeks.
“The location will remain open for this period to provide time for its 14 retail tenants to relocate their businesses.”
Burton nurseries’ director Arthur Burslem did not respond to requests for a comment.