Belfast Telegraph

Lengthy bans for former directors of 'most complained about' retailer

By Margaret Canning

The former bosses of a Portadown family jeweller, including an ex-director who generated a record number of customer complaints, have been given boardroom bans over their conduct.

Nigel (64) and Jill O'Hara (63) from Ballyknock Road in Tandragee, Co Armagh were disqualified as directors for seven years each after their business, Nigel O'Hara, went bust.

And Richard O'Hara (37) of Linvara, Tandragee, was disqualified for nine years.

All three gave undertakings to the Department for the Economy that they would not act as company directors.

The family members were directors of JRN Retail Group, which ran a shop from 1 William Street in Portadown. It went into administration in November 2015 and into liquidation six months later, owing £1.7m.

Mr O'Hara Snr accepted that he had failed to keep or deliver up accounting records over the last 12 months of trading.

And Jill O'Hara admitted she had acted as de facto director and had acted as if she was the financial director and had control over company affairs. She also failed to keep or deliver up accounting records.

Richard O'Hara also accepted that he failed to keep or deliver accounting records, and that he had breached consumer protection rules by taking monies from customers for goods which were not received as well as misleading customers about the price and availability of stock.

He had been convicted at Craigavon Magistrates Court two years ago after a prosecution by Trading Standards over the running of an online store. He pleaded guilt to 10 charges in a case brought by Trading Standards Service, part of the Department for the Economy.

JRN Retail Group had also pleaded guilty to 10 similar charges and was fined £1,000.

As well as the jewellers, the company also had a website advertising over 91,000 products from plasma screens to art prints and shampoo.

But Trading Standards saw an increase in complaints about the business, including that the business had taken payment but that no goods had been received.

In addition, customers faced difficulty in getting their money refunded. According to Trading Standards, "many consumers were very distressed, as they believed that they had been caught out by online scammers".

The Trading Standards Service said it "sought to advise the business on how to amend its procedures".

It added: "However, the business failed to heed the advice and complaints grew at such an alarming rate that between July and September 2014, the business Nigel O'Hara became the most complained about business to the Trading Standards Service."

The business was found to have misled consumers about the price of goods, about the ability to supply the goods, sales promotions and the discount offered on goods and a 100% cash back competition prize, where no winners were selected.

Belfast Telegraph

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