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Small businesses thousands out of pocket after firm collapses

PUBLISHED: 09:08 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:01 16 January 2020

Kevin Owen, MD of the VANshop in Fakenham, has instructed insolvency experts to liquidate the 15-year-old firm which has now ceased trading. Picture: Archant

Kevin Owen, MD of the VANshop in Fakenham, has instructed insolvency experts to liquidate the 15-year-old firm which has now ceased trading. Picture: Archant

The bosses of several small businesses have told how they have lost tens of thousands of pounds after a Norfolk van firm went bust.

Gary Stolworthy, who said he has lost money after VANshop went bust. He is pictured right, with his brother at Stolworthy Electrical. Pic: Gary Stolworthy.Gary Stolworthy, who said he has lost money after VANshop went bust. He is pictured right, with his brother at Stolworthy Electrical. Pic: Gary Stolworthy.

One builder has lost £26,000 after the van he ordered from Kevin Owen of VANshop, in Fakenham, was never delivered.

A carpenter has said his work is now hampered because the £15,500 van he bought from Mr Owen, of Little Dunham, needs to be returned to a supplier, as despite paying for it, he does not actually own it.

Mr Owen, managing director of VANshop, Hempton Road, liquidated the 15-year-old firm which has now ceased trading. Insolvency firm McTear, Williams & Wood are in the process of writing to all the creditors but have said it's unlikely people will get any money back.

Jack Baker and his own vans at North Norfolk Garden Machinery. Mr Baker has spoken of his financial loss after buying from VANshop, which has gone bust. Pic: Jack BakerJack Baker and his own vans at North Norfolk Garden Machinery. Mr Baker has spoken of his financial loss after buying from VANshop, which has gone bust. Pic: Jack Baker

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Mr Owen has been approached for comment.

After the business collapsed, he said: "I want to get the message across that I haven't tried to line my own pockets and disappear ... I want people to know it wasn't intentional."

Colin Marshall, who owns carpentry firm Colin Marshall & Son, Bridge Street, Fakenham, paid £15,500 in a part-exchange deal with VANshop on a Ford Transit vehicle which turned out had come from a supplier who hadn't been paid - meaning it belongs to them. Mr Marshall has now been left with no vehicle desperately needed for his joinery business.

"We are lucky we have good clients so I've told them the situation. My father always told me to pay for things outright and that's why I paid Kevin all the money, I'd known him for years and VANshop was literally 300 yards from my business.

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"It's really put me off trusting anyone. I've had to see a solicitor, I've had to speak to my bank, I've spent hours on the phone, it's all disruption to your day when you should be working.

"I used VANshop to support a local business and because Kevin Owen was a good salesman."

Jack Baker, who runs North Norfolk Garden Machinery, Weybourne Road, Bodham, near Holt, is £9,080 out of pocket after buying a Peugeot Partner van. He said he bought it without even a test drive because he knew Mr Owen so well and paid for it to be taxed and with RAC warranty. He later found the vehicle was SORN, statutory off road notification, and from a supplier who hadn't been paid by Mr Owen. The vehicle belongs to them. "I'd spent another £500 having signwriting on the van. I just feel I've lost faith in people now because I knew Kevin, my father, had known him for 30 years."

Gary Stolworthy, of Stolworthy Electrical Services, Bernard Road, High Kelling, has lost £18,500. He ordered a new Nissan Dispatch van in October and initially paid £1000 deposit. "I spoke to Kevin in November and he said the van was ready to pick up so I paid the rest of the money, I'd known Kevin for 10 years and I took him on face value." But he never got the van. "It's put us in a serious muddle, it's crippling, really put us on the back foot."

James Morrissey, and his wife Julie, of Morrissey Builders, Briston, have lost £26,000 which they paid for a Nissan Navara. Mrs Morrissey said: "Mr Owen did this to loyal, hardworking customers."

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