Vernons goes into voluntary liquidation

One of the best-known, award-winning butcher's in Wales has gone into voluntary liquidation.

Vernons Fresh Food Hall of Holt, near Wrexham in Clwyd, is still trading and looking for a buyer, but owner Andrew Vernon says he is quitting and may even get out of the food industry.0

The food hall, which includes a café, has a turnover of £17,000 a week and is at the centre of the village, but in recent years has suffered complaints from residents over extended use and problems with planning permission for its activities from the council.

The business expanded five years ago, investing £160,000 in a facelift, kitchens, café, toilets for the public and conversions to the upstairs of the building.

A garage that was converted into a cutting area failed to win council planning approval on change of use, despite it being used for business for some 25 years.

Andrew closed the catering side of his business at the shop and spent £50,000 on a failed planning appeal. He also spent £15,000 in compensation to residents and £120,000 on starting a new catering business and café on a nearby industrial estate.

Despite having a turnover of £1m, however, the business, which employed 30 staff at one time, ran into trouble with overheads and costs. "The recession has not helped," said Vernon, who is married with four children "It was time to get out" he added. "I'd rather be in voluntary liquidation now rather than receivership in 12 months. I have had quite a few people offering to buy it and me run it. But my family are more important to me at this time than bricks and mortar or running a business."

The business is currently operating with 15 staff. "Every single one has been so supportive" he said. "They know it's not my fault and they know it's not their fault."

The business has won numerous awards over the years, including the Journal's own Best Shop In Wales title three times.

Andrew is the son of John Vernon, a former president of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders.

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