MP calls for Provence pub fraud inquiry

By The PMA Team

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Property, Provence

MP calls for Provence pub fraud inquiry
Labour MP calls for fraud inquiry in wake of collapse.

A Labour MP has called for the launch of a fraud inquiry in the wake of the collapse of pub company Provence.

MP Jim Dobbin's intervention comes after the Morning Advertiser revealed last week that Provence founder Paul Kiely's brothers David and Shaun Kiely ran a firm, S-Mart Stores, that collapsed in identical fashion to Provence a year ago.

Both firms sold hugely overvalued freehold properties to private investors on the promise of inflated rents.

Dobbin tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons in March 1998 which decried the activities of Provence founder Paul J Kiely and his brothers.

Everybody is hugely relieved about the downfall of Provence ​Provence freehold owner.

He described Kiely Developments as cowboy builders who "continually flouted builders regulations".

A year later the company, where Paul Kiely and brother Shaun Kiely served as directors, collapsed.

This week Dobbin said: "I am not surprised to find that members of this family have been involved in a company which has again let down the people they claim to be working for.

"The Department of Trade needs to look seriously at their suitability for holding directorships. Maybe it is time for a fraud enquiry."

Meanwhile, freehold owners of Provence pubs are already signing up licensees to new leases following its collapse. Provence is in administrative receivership, which allows landlords to repossess their properties for non-payment of rent.

We wish we'd researched Provence properly on the Morning Advertiser website before we bought our two pubs ​Provence investor.

A number of freehold owners repossessed their properties last Wednesday, the day after accountancy firm Kroll was appointed as administrator.

One freehold owner, who owns a number of Provence pubs, said: "My licensees are signing up for new 21-year leases with rents around £5,000 to £7,000 per annum less than before.

"Provence was taking 50% of fruit machine, quiz machine, pool table [income] and 25p a packet from cigarette machine income on top of rent.

"Everybody is hugely relieved about the downfall of Provence. People at Kroll must already know this was a big confidence trick."

Another investor said: "We have been very naive. We wish we'd researched Provence properly on the Morning Advertiser website before we bought our two pubs."

Paul J Kiely, the founder of Provence, issued a statement on morningadvertiser.co.uk earlier this week.

He said: "I am more than happy to meet anyone face to face and defend the trading activities of Provence. This evening I will raise a glass of vintage Krug to the life of Provence and say goodbye once and for all to the pub industry."

A freehold investor said: "This guy has got the integrity of Adolf Hitler. I sat in the Provence office for three hours last week and he didn't have the manners to speak to me."

Philip Sambell, a former pubco chief at County Estate Management, said: "Mr Keily's cavalier attitude is symptomatic of his entire business model and all I can say in respect of his comments are good riddance."

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