06 Dec We Are Moving!
We are leaving Chapel Street and moving to Burton Rd, West Didsbury.
Although we are gutted to leave Chapel St, to be honest we have had a super stressful 10 months here. The reason we are making this statement is because we don’t want to leave this site without letting people know what has happened. We would feel awful if the next tenants went in, had similar issues and we hadn’t mentioned anything.
The initial agreement we signed up to in February with Future Artists via AppearHere (an online marketplace for short-term retail space) was an all-inclusive rate that covered rent, electricity, water, business rates, WIFI and Appearhere’s fee.
In August we had bailiffs turn up with a warrant instructing them to turn off our electricity supply with immediate effect because there was an outstanding balance on the Future Artists electricity account of over £1200. We had to prove that Another Heart To Feed is a separate business and fortunately by that point we’d signed a new contract to take over utilities on the site. This meant the bailiff had to leave and chase Future Artists directly. If by that point we hadn’t taken on responsibility for the electricity bills then our supply would of been cut off there and then.
The bailiffs turning up was not an isolated incident of people coming in to the shop asking to speak to Future Artists because money was still owed to them so what happened in October was the catalyst for us to realise we had to move on.
At the end of October we got a visit from Salford Council business rates team to let us know that zero payments had been made to the rates accounts on the property since we moved in at the start of the year. So we had been paying this large, all-inclusive rate each month that should have included business rates but the council hadn’t received a penny from Future Artists. The council then issued AHTF with a rates bill with our business name on to the tune of over £3k and explained that the agreement we had in place with Future Artists was irrelevant. Because we are the occupier we are liable for the rates on the property, so yet again our business found itself in the firing line.
We have now had 6 stressful weeks of toing and froing with Future Artists to get them to pay what they owe on the rates bill. Mark Ashmore (Director of Future Artists) has always insisted that the money was sat there waiting to pay the bills, so we asked him, as a sign of goodwill to make a payment to the rates account before our December rent payment or else we would have to withhold rent to protect our company from non-payment. We were desperate at this point. We had raised this issue 5 weeks ago and still no payment had been made so we were facing up to the reality that the rates might never be paid by Future Artists.
Mark’s response on 23rd November was to threaten to evict us on 1st December. It seemed an aggressive response if it was just ‘an administrative error’ and the money was sat there waiting to go. We’d had 5 weeks of empty promises that payment would be made to the rates account and now we were being threatened with eviction and had an unpaid £3k rates bill over our heads.
Although a payment has now been made the rates accounts are still owed money and we are left in a position of hope that they will be brought up to date before we leave in 2 weeks.
Another issue we found with the short term lease we signed was that it allowed for re-negotiation after 6 months. We knew that was going to be the case but we were astounded when the figure came through in August from Mark Ashmore as to how much he wanted to increase the rent by. Not only did he want us to take over the responsibility for paying for the utilities of the property, he also wanted to set rent at almost $4k per month! He is obviously well within his right to put a offer to us but it didn’t seem fair that he saw us getting busier and tried to take advantage of that with an outrageous rent increase.
Our contract was due to expire at the end of Feb 2018 and we were hoping to sign up to a longer term lease but we know now that Future Artists were planning on trying to squeeze even more money out of us. We have seen the rates he is looking to charge for the space and they don’t even include business rates, water or electricity.
Despite how busy we are, the site doesn’t justify the rent he is asking for. For one it doesn’t have central heating or double glazing and it gets very, very cold in winter. The only way to heat the rooms is via electric heaters which have pretty much tripled our electricity bill. We also quickly out grew the space in terms of kitchen area. An oven won’t even fit in the tiny kitchen. Paying the ridiculous, unrealistic rates he is looking for would quickly run us into the ground.
We believe everything happens for a reason and our home on Chapel Street obviously wasn’t meant to be. We’ve loved the journey since we opened in March, albeit short but sweet. The support we’ve been shown by the wonderful people of Manchester has blown us away.
An amazing opportunity has been offered to us in West Village on Burton Road, West Didsbury. West Village will continue running as a bar in the evenings and we will be opening an Another Heart To Feed pop up in the day time serving breakfast, brunch and coffee.
The more we think about it the more we are feeling positive and excited about moving to the suburbs. We have a baby girl on route, due at the start of March so we’re planning on initially opening 4 days a week (Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun) so we can find a good balance between work and family life.
Our last day trading on Chapel Street will be Thursday 21st December.
We will keep you updated with our move to West Village, we’re hoping to open on Thursday 25th January.
Hopefully we’ll see some of you soon.
To the burbs we go.
Another Heart To Feed
(Nicola and Alex)
“Be thankful for closed doors, detours and roadblocks. They protect you from paths and places not meant for you”.