Co-op row could be resolved

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A SCARBOROUGH entrepreneur believes his company’s battle against the Co-operative could be resolved if bosses agreed to meet with him.

Scarborough-born retail entrepreneur Arthur Harris is in a legal dispute with the Co-op over a deal agreed more than a year ago between the group and Mr Harris’ company Haldanes Stores.

Mr Harris also owns Bakery Products, which took over Woodhead the Bakers, and is a subsidiary of the Haldane Retail Group.

However Haldanes Stores, which is in dispute with the Co-op, is not part of the Haldane Retail Group, as was reported in Friday’s Evening News.

Mr Harris claims Haldanes Stores has suffered a “significant loss” because the Co-op broke agreements between him as well as the Office of Fair Trading when it sold 26 stores to his company.

However the Co-op has denied the allegations, saying it acted in good faith in its dealings, and that they themselves are taking action against Haldanes Stores over the failure of rent payments.

Mr Harris said: “It is true that Haldanes owes the Co-op rent. The rent owed is a just a percentage of the claim we are making. If the Co-op were so concerned about their rent, why not have a meeting with us to understand our position and why we are making the claims?

“I have a full paper trail of correspondence trying to set up a meeting to fully explain Haldanes’ position. These requests have either been ignored or rebuffed.

“Their actions left us with no option but to issue formal proceedings, and even up to half an hour before we issued those, I emailed the Co-op once again to request a meeting. I still believe we can sort this out, if only they would meet with me.”

Mr Harris took over Woodhead the Bakers after it went into administration in March, with his company Bakery Products taking on the Beaconsfield Street factory and 11 stores.