Government speaks to franchise firm

The Department of Trade and Industry is investigating the way the firm and sister company, Kwik Jet, were operated.
December 8, 2006

Government speaks to franchise firm
Stephen Bailey

DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry investigators have spoken to a Warrington company in response to complaints from franchisees.

The DTI was contacted about First For Fragrance, which used to be based at St James' Court in Wilderspool Causeway and is now based at Meadowcroft Way in Leigh.

The firm sells franchises to operate perfume vending machines.

Two men who have had involvement with the firm are Bryn Morgan and Michael Anderson. Bryn Morgan now runs the business after taking over. Michael Anderson had previously been a shareholder and had done sales work. Both had also been involved with Tan Kwik, a sunbed franchise firm that was wound up in the public interest following complaints from franchisees.

Mr Morgan was the sales manager and Mr Anderson was a director of Tan Kwik.

Mr Anderson went on to do some selling work for First For Fragrance, a business in which his next door neighbour, Malcolm Hague, used to be a director. Bryn Morgan's name was given out by First For Fragrance as a franchisee who potential buyers could call as a reference.

Mr Morgan bought the business in August and is now a director. It operates as First Install South Ltd, trading as First For Fragrance.

Franchisees bought the right to sell miniature fragrances at £5 each from vending machines that would be installed in pubs and clubs at a cost of £20,000 for 10 machines. Some 28 franchises have been sold around the country. But some buyers have complained of making less money than they hoped and of waiting months for vending machines to arrive.

The DTI said it could not comment.

FIRST For Fragrance held a meeting for around a dozen franchisees from around the country in the Oak Suite of The Village Hotel on Saturday.

The Warrington Guardian understands Bryn Morgan told them three franchisees were taking legal action against the company.

He outlined a new business model and franchisees were told there would be no false promises' and that they would now receive better support from the company.

VANDALS: Tan Kwik's former offices at Gemini business park were vandalised not long after it closed TAN Kwik was a sunbed hire company that sold franchises around the country.

It was based at Europa Boulevard until the Government wound it up in the public interest in July.

The Department of Trade and Industry is investigating the way the firm and sister company, Kwik Jet, were operated.

Adrian Griffin and Michael Anderson were directors of the firm. Bryn Morgan joined the company towards the end of its life and spoke for the company as its sales manager when it appeared on Watchdog, the BBC consumer affairs programme.

Bryn Morgan said he could not comment on the sale of franchises because he was not involved with sales prior to his purchase of the business, and he said no connection should be drawn between First For Fragrance and Tan Kwik.

He said: "I have only been a director of this business for four months."

He said he has co-operated with the DTI.

Malcolm Hague, from Thelwall, who has a £475,000 house in Stockport Road, used to be a director for First For Fragrance, before it was sold to Bryn Morgan.

When asked about the DTI's involvement, he said: "I couldn't possibly comment. I sold it in good faith and due diligence. There was one franchisee who was a bit disgruntled but the majority of the reason was because his wife became ill and he didn't have the time to operate the franchise. I negotiated to buy it out. Everybody else, as far as I was concerned, was getting on and building their business."

He said First Install South Ltd, which trades as First For Fragrance, had been a sister company' to his own Caddishead business, First Install Ltd.

"Some of the directors were common, that's all, but other shareholders weren't common," he said.

When Michael Anderson, who lives in a £600,000 house in Stockport Road in Thelwall, was asked about the way franchises were sold, he said he was just a shareholder for First For Fragrance.

When told franchisees had described him as the sales manager, he said: "I did various sales but I can't really comment much about it.

"Earlier this year I was a shareholder of the company and, to help out, I used to do sales but it wasn't my only role."

He added: "After What I went through with Kwik group, I don't think I would set foot into the franchise industry again."

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