Established in 2010 and part of the Group First group; Store First was an investment venture in storage pods. It offered investors a “guaranteed” income initially of 8% which would be generated from the rental of the storage pods.
Not only have some investors not seen these promised returns, they also received letters saying they were liable to pay business rates on the investment.
Many of the clients who invested in Store First were initially cold called by an unregulated marketing firm, commonly referred to as an Introducer. They usually offer a free pension review which shows the benefits of moving the pension from the current scheme into a more “lucrative” one. These Introducers do not have the regulated authority to give financial advice. They are also often paid commission from the investment/product they are recommending.
This was also the case with Store First and Introducer company Jackson Francis, who were also connected to Store First. They reportedly received £33m in commission from Store First for referring clients. Jackson Francis were wound up in 2014.
The Hetherington Partnership Limited acted as the conveyancer for some SIPP companies in relation to purchasing store pods from Store First Limited. They were closed in October 2017 after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reportedly intervened.
In April 2019 a high court petition to wind up Store First saw various store pod centres close. These included; Store First Ltd, Store First Blackburn, Store First St Helens and SFM Services Ltd.
However, according to the Insolvency Service – Pay Store Ltd – who manage the centres, were allowed to continue providing services to enable people to store and remove items whilst a longer-term solution was found. In January 2020 official receivers agreed a sale of some assets.
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