Tywardreath village shop back in the hands of estate agents

Posted By on 8th November 2018

8th November 2018

By Graham Smith

The Cornish village shop that was “rescued” by a Surrey-based company is again on the market, for the second time in six months.

The Tywardreath village shop had been at risk of closure before self-styled “social entrepreneurs” Trudy Thompson and Josh Taylor raised £470,000 by inviting high-interest person-to-person loans from the local community.  Their Hunter Grange Investments company bought the shop, modernised it, and it continues to trade successfully and serve local needs.

But unlike several other village shops in Cornwall which are now owned and run by local communities, there is no “asset lock” on the Tywardreath store and Ms Thompson and Mr Taylor have again put it on the market.

The opportunity to take a £55,000 lease on the shop is today (Thursday) being offered by London-based estate agents Christies.  The agents claim the shop’s weekly takings are £10,400.

Six months ago the shop had been offered for sale at £420,000, but Ms Thompson and Mr Taylor removed it from the market after a local outcry.  Many local people regard the shop as a vital part of their social and commercial fabric, and are concerned that a change-of-use planning application could eventually result in its permanent loss.  The shop includes a three-bedroom residential property.

Many of the person-to-person loans which rescued the shop in September 2016 are now due for repayment, resulting in a number of court claims.  The original loans documents promised to pay interest at 6%.    Some disgruntled lenders instructed a solicitor to recover their cash several months ago.

Ms Thompson has previously said that the loans could be converted into shares if the local community wanted to take ownership of the shop.  With some local people claiming that they have already raised £470,000 to buy the shop, the distinction between a community-owned asset and a private business venture has sometimes been lost – reflected in a bitter war of words on social media.  Ms Thompson and Mr Taylor had raised the money, in part, by asking people to become “investors.”

At the end of May the pair held an "investors' meeting" promising that everyone who was owed money would be repaid, in full, on time, and that the future of the shop was secure.  But the shop recently reduced its opening hours, again triggering local concern which Ms Thompson and Mr Taylor answered with a post on their website:

“We hope this will be a temporary change as it is purely due to the damage being caused by the actions of short-sighted and quite frankly selfish people impacting on our business and finances without caring about how this will impact on the shop for the community.

 

 

Above: estate agents Christies are today offering the opportunity to lease the Tywardreath village shop

The May 2018 interview in which Trudy Thompson told Cornwall Reports what had happened to the money raised by the local community in Tywardreath

“It’s hard enough to run a retail business in a small village without having jaundiced negative publicity spread about our finances by a handful of people who ought to have stopped their spiteful behaviour a long time ago!

“We have actually done really well to ensure this remains a thriving village shop with a great bunch of local people happily employed to run it.

“Yesterday we had over 300 customers and we rarely see less than 270 even on a quiet day – this is a healthy business – not a dying one!

“Even though we need to bring more people onto our team we can’t risk employing anyone else at the moment with the amount of fear and doubt being created by negative publicity about our fundraising.

“The sad truth is the troublemaking about us is the only thing that has ever held us back from raising more money for this shop to grow – that’s why some cruel people are hellbent on doing more of it to make us look like failures.

“Thank you to all our loyal customers for your kindness and support. We really do appreciate it, it’s often all that keeps us going and staying positive about the future of this shop.”

Ms Thompson has previously given interviews to Cornwall Reports, but has not responded to recent requests for comment.

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