Fresh Local & Wild, which closed in Lincoln after allegations of not paying staff or contributors, is planning an ambitious return to the city with “new staff” and a “new beginning”.
The lid was lifted on allegations against the foodhall and cafe business on Wednesday, as The Lincolnite reported about numerous traders and staff saying they were owed ‘significant’ sums of money by Fresh Local & Wild.
The store, located at St Marks Shopping Centre, mysteriously closed this week after just four months in operation, with a sign in the window saying “closed to refurnishing”, though according to contributors to the Lincoln shop, that was not the case at all.
The concept allowed for artists and businesses in Lincolnshire to stock their items at a physical store, with concession stands and shelves full of local produce and artwork.
Multiple local independent businesses anonymously claim the company owed them significant sums of money for commissions on sales of their products in-store, claiming many concessions have been removed as a result.
The company lists Ted Ward, sometimes appearing to be referred to as Edward Pickering, as the sole property advisor for the business, meaning he is likely to broker deals for these stores and their sites across the country.
It is a similar role to one he held with failed enterprise 15:17, which saw five businesses dissolve and one liquidate under different variations of the same name on Companies House in just two years.
In 2010 he was banned from running businesses for 12 years, and in 2014 he admitted two counts of running a business while disqualified and bankrupt in Merseyside.
Company managing director Ellena Ward stated categorically at the time that Fresh Local & Wild and 15:17 were different entities, but Ted Ward’s name is associated to both.
The complaints from Lincoln’s independent traders fell on deaf ears, as director of the company Ellena Ward did not respond to questions sent to her by The Lincolnite by the time of publication, both on Wednesday and Friday.
Landlords for the site in Lincoln, St Marks, confirmed the store was closed, expressing how “disappointed” they were to hear that local businesses were not being paid for their work.
However, this closure may not be as permanent as was initially believed, as the Fresh Local & Wild website states the store will be reopening on Thursday, June 30 in the same location. St Marks’ website also still has the business on its list of stores, though opening times are all set as closed.
The website describes it as “a new beginning for the store” with “new experienced staff”, leading many to believe the previous staff members have either quit or been let go due to pay disputes.
Inconsistencies are rife surrounding the closure of this store, with Google stating it is “permanently closed”, while the shop window says it’s closed to “refurnishing” and the website says it is closed due to “staff shortages”.
A local business that used to provide stock for Fresh Local & Wild before the store first closed, who has again asked to remain anonymous, said to The Lincolnite the latest announcement “smells stronger than a dairy farm”.
They said: “Staff haven’t been paid and the majority of concessions removed stock over non-payment. I would strongly advise anyone to not join as staff unless they like volunteering.”
Interestingly, it is also disclosed on the Fresh Local & Wild website the Glasgow shop is closed for the same issue as Lincoln, and will also return in June, promising the same “new beginning”.
It also states there are plans for a store in York to open on June 17, as well as other shops coming soon in Chester, Winchester, Dudley, Washington, Wolverhampton and Heswall.
The Lincolnite has again contacted St Marks Shopping Centre but had not received a response at the time of publication.