Unmasking the truth behind Store First, our groundbreaking article serves as a beacon of knowledge, equipping you with the tools necessary to navigate the treacherous waters of investment pitfalls. Join us as we dissect the intricate details, revealing the devastating consequences faced by those who embarked on this ill-fated journey.
Read on to understand the challenges associated with high-risk investments like Store First and the importance of choosing us to open your claim.
The Allure of Store First: A Perfect Investment Opportunity
Store First, an investment scheme offered by Store First Limited, presented itself as an enticing opportunity. With effective marketing, celebrity endorsements, and a straightforward premise, investors were enticed to purchase storage pods and earn substantial returns through rental income.
Some investors were even promised an impressive 10% return within four years, but these claims were cautioned against by industry trade bodies as unrealistic.
The Unraveling of Store First's Promises
Unfortunately, the gains promised by Store First did not materialise for most investors. Reports emerged of inflated returns, cold-calling, forced sales, and instances of fraud. Furthermore, Store First and three related companies were wound up in the High Court on April 30, 2019. The Official Receiver was appointed as the liquidator, responsible for managing the assets and liabilities of the four companies.
The Impact on Investors and Pension Funds
Several pension funds, including Berkley Burke, Carey, Taylor Made, Montpelier SIPP, and Lifetime SIPP, held investments in Store First. These pension schemes have come under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, with claims made against them by investors who experienced significant losses.
Some investors have successfully pursued claims through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and received payouts of over £30,000.
Questionable Advisors and Consequences
Not only were investors impacted by the failure of Store First, but the role of financial advisors also came under scrutiny. Firms like Douglas Baillie Limited (The Pension Office), Anthony Feeney Financial Services LLP, Anthony William Morrin (AWM Financial Services), and Archer Bramley provided advice that led clients to invest in high-risk, unregulated schemes, including Store First storage pods.
As a result, claims have been filed against these advisors for providing unsuitable advice regarding pension transfers.
The Hetherington Partnership Limited: A Tale of Incompetence and Dishonesty
The Hetherington Partnership Limited, a solicitor firm based in The Wirral, acted as the conveyancer for some SIPP companies involved in purchasing storage pods from Store First. However, their operations came to a halt in October 2017 after intervention by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Following a tribunal hearing, they were banned from acting as solicitors for life and ordered to pay substantial costs. The tribunal described their actions as "manifestly incompetent, reckless, and dishonest."
Group First and Park First: A Common Thread
Store First belongs to a group of companies known as Group First. Investors who placed their trust in the sister company, Park First, have also faced issues with their car park investments.
This pattern of troubles raises concerns about the overall practices of the group and highlights the need for thorough due diligence when considering any investment within the Group First portfolio.
Understanding SIPPs and the Risks Involved
Store First storage pod schemes were often held within Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs). SIPPs allow individuals to transfer their savings into various investments and portfolios, aiming to generate passive income for their retirement.
However, SIPPs carry inherent risks, and it is crucial to have the necessary investment experience to manage such accounts effectively. Investments like Store First are considered high risk and may not be suitable for all investors.
The Aftermath: Store First's Liabilities and Asset Disposition
After the winding-up of Store First Limited and its related companies, the Official Receiver assumed responsibility for managing their assets and liabilities. On December 11, 2019, the Official Receiver concluded the sale of the 15 Storage centres' freehold, associated assets, and goodwill in various cities including Blackburn, Burnley, Rochdale, Barnsley, Liverpool, Ellesmere Port, Wakefield, Glasgow, Preston, Derby, Leeds, St Helens, Manchester, Northampton, and Nottingham.
These assets were successfully transferred to Store First Freeholds Limited, safeguarding the interests of the buyers.
Simultaneously, the Official Receiver finalised the sale of SFM Services Limited's assets to Pay Store Limited. These strategic transactions aimed to mitigate the impact on investors and ensure the continuity of operations to the extent possible.
Store First's Business Rates Surprise
In February 2018, Store First sent a surprising letter to investors, notifying them of their unexpected liability to pay business rates. This unforeseen development caught many investors off guard, as they were unaware of this financial obligation when they initially invested in the storage pod scheme.
The additional financial burden further compounded the disappointment and financial strain experienced by investors.
Lessons Learned from the Store First Experience
The Store First investment saga serves as a cautionary tale, emphasising the importance of conducting thorough due diligence and independent research before committing to any investment opportunity. It is essential to assess the associated risks, seek advice from qualified and trustworthy financial advisors, and carefully evaluate the suitability of an investment based on individual financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment experience.
The Role of Regulators and Compensation Schemes
Regulatory bodies, such as the Serious Fraud Office, and compensation schemes, like the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), play crucial roles in investigating financial misconduct and providing recourse for affected investors.
The FSCS, in particular, has enabled investors who suffered losses in pension schemes like Capita Oak Pension and Henley Retirement Benefit to receive compensation for their financial losses.
Moving Forward with Caution
The collapse of Store First and the subsequent investigations and legal actions underscore the need for vigilance and skepticism when presented with seemingly attractive investment opportunities. Investors must conduct thorough research, ask critical questions, and consider seeking multiple opinions before making investment decisions.
Protecting one's financial well-being requires an ongoing commitment to staying informed, being proactive, and working with reputable professionals who prioritise their clients' best interests.
Protecting your investments requires careful consideration. Please reach out to us here at CP Financial Claims via the form below if you would like to have a free no-obligation chat about opening a claim.