HALDANES BOWS OUT

A war of words between two high-street supermarket chains continued to the bitter end yesterday (Tuesday) as the closed signs went up at Haldanes in Castle Street.

The final confirmation that the staff were to lose their jobs came last Thursday, ending an anxious few weeks for the store’s employees who were fearful of losing their jobs.

Their fate was sealed last week when, following advice from lawyers and an insolvency practitioner, the owners of Haldanes Stores Limited announced they had made the decision to seek an administration order for the business in order to protect their position.

The company which runs the Haldanes Store on Castle Street, which it rents from the Co-operative Group Limited, issued proceedings against the Co-op in the High Court on May 10, 2011.

Haldanes alleges that the Co-op has materially breached key terms of the agreements it and the Co-op entered into and under which it acquired the 26 stores, and also that the Co-op’s actions amount to breaches of undertakings the Co-op gave to the OFT. Haldanes alleges that these breaches have severely damaged the business it acquired from the Co-op, not only causing it significant financial loss, but also causing harm to consumers.

Arthur Harris, CEO of Haldanes Stores said: “The directors and I are devastated at having to take this step and our thoughts are with our employees in Forfar who find themselves facing an uncertain future; we would like to publicly thank them for their efforts and loyalty during their time with Haldanes. We will work closely with the administrator and do our utmost to secure the future of a group of stores in the Haldanes estate.

“We have made countless attempts to negotiate with the Co-operative Group Limited over the last nine months, all to no avail. As a result, we issued proceedings in the High Court against the Co-op on May 10, 2011. We lodged full details of these proceedings with the High Court and its solicitors yesterday (June 8).

“I am absolutely distraught that it has come to this. We firmly believed that the Co-op would at least sit down with us and hear what we had to say, but they have chosen to either ignore or refuse all of our requests to meet. This has left us with nowhere else to go. The directors and I would like to assure employees and suppliers of Haldane Retail Group Limited, UGO Stores Limited, Haldanes Express Limited and Bakery Products Limited that these businesses are unaffected by this development and will continue to trade as normal.”

In response a spokesman for the Co-operative Group said: “The Co-operative Group regrets that Haldanes has taken the decision to seek an administration order.

“Haldanes is substantially indebted to the Group due to its failure to pay rents owing to us. We have acted in good faith throughout our dealings with the business, including providing significant financial support during its start-up phase. Any legal action will be contested vigorously.

“Most recently, we carefully considered a proposal from Haldanes that we provide further financial support to help them through their current difficulties. We regrettably decided, however, that given what appeared to be the levels of the issues facing Haldanes, we could not proceed.”