All concerned in this story are anonymous because it suits everyone. A retailer took over a second store not too far from his first. One of the big groups suggested a fascia for the second one. He decided to give it a go and signed up just over a year ago. It was a three-year contract. There was no signage, no branding… as his area manager advised waiting a few months first while it settled in.

This turned out to be good advice because, after a few months, it became apparent that store number two wasn’t going to work for this retailer so he reassigned the lease to another guy. The new owner took his supplies from the same group for a while, but had not signed any contract. Then he decided to quit.

The retailer who had signed then received a letter from lawyers with a bill for £34,000 - some sort of severance fee.

He resourcefully suggested to the lawyer that he would agree to take supplies for his original store from the group (spending £3-4k per week) so they wouldn’t be out of pocket, but the solicitor came back to say that this was not acceptable and they wanted a payment plan.

He rang me in shock. He said he got shot of the shop because he was losing money, and there was no way he could afford £34k.

I got in touch with the wholesaler and they agreed to waive the penalty.

But please take note that, in these days of mergers and uncertainties, all the groups are getting tough. Jumping ship is no longer an easy option.