Welcome to GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter

Phil Groom writes:

Took a day trip to Exeter yesterday. Wanted to buy my wife some ear rings for Christmas, you understand, and I’d heard about this new jewellery shop: it opened late last week. Found lots of bling but nothing quite suitable…

GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter, 15th December 2008

GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter, 15th December 2008

Zooming in on GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter, 15th Dec 2008

Zooming in on GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter, 15th Dec 2008

Zooming in Closer on GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter, 15th December 2008

Zooming in Closer on GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter, 15th December 2008

GemStar Planning Application for New Signage

GemStar Planning Application for New Signage

Excerpt from the Planning Application Notice for New Signage

Excerpt from the Planning Application Notice for New Signage

I’ve no idea where this leaves the Covenant that was supposedly in place to ensure that the premises would remain in business as a Christian bookshop. In the meantime, anyone who wishes to comment formally on the proposed new signage has 21 days from 12th Dec 2008, the date on the Planning Application Notice: zoom in to read the whole notice here. By my reckoning, that’s until the end of this month…

21 responses to “Welcome to GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter

  1. Before we get on our high horses – where can we check the covenant.

  2. I’m awaiting details from SPCK: have requested it as a matter of urgency and will post here when I know more. A bit of background in the meantime:

    SPCK’s 2007 Annual Report (pdf via the Charity Commission) states, p.6:

    On 31 October 2006, all our bookshops and their staff were transferred to St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust. The Society will retain six freeholds for a period of seven years, when (subject to agreed conditions) they will also be transferred.

    The annual report does not state which shops these freeholds relate to, but another note referring to SSGCT on p.7 states:

    This charity undertook not only to take on all the staff and to try to keep all the shops open, but also to ensure that the stockholding carried a breadth of materials from a variety of Christian denominations, including those of differing views on contentious current debates.

    There’s a longer note on p.20:

    On 30 October 2006, SPCK entered into an agreement with St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSGCT), a registered charity no: 1109008, for the creation of a new Christian Resources Group including the SPCK Bookshops open at that date. Under the terms of the agreement and in furtherance of its charitable purposes, SPCK transferred its Bookshops activities to SSGCT on 31 October 2006 including the transfer of certain freehold and leasehold properties, fixtures fittings and stock. SPCK also agreed to grant leases to SSGCT, at peppercorn rents, on certain other freehold properties for a period of seven years, after which time they will be transferred to SSGCT if the SPCK Bookshops Group remains in operation on an agreed basis. From the date of completion, SSGCT became responsible for the trading activities of all bookshops continuing to trade under the ‘SPCK Bookshops’ name, which is being used by SSGCT under an annually renewable licence.

    In April this year the Brewers attempted to auction the Exeter shop along with several others. The sale never went ahead, however, and Simon Kingston, SPCK’s General Secretary, told the press that there was “a covenant on the freeholds limiting their use for some time to that of Christian bookselling with a broad multi-denominational stockholding.” (as cited in Christian Marketplace and elsewhere).

    The freehold was eventually sold on 24 September 2008 for £507,000, as per this excerpt from the Land Registry database:

    Title absolute
    1 (31.10.2008 ) PROPRIETOR: ANTON FREDERICK LAMPO and JOSEPH ANTON LAMPO of [– address removed –].
    2 (08.10.2008 ) The price stated to have been paid on 24 September 2008 was £507,000.
    3 (31.10.2008 ) A Transfer to a former proprietor contains a covenant to observe and perform the covenants referred to in the Charges Register and of indemnity in respect thereof.

  3. Half a million quid? So they’re not bankrupt then. Wonder how much of that has found its way into the Orthodox Mission Fund, or for legal services pertaining to the sale.

  4. I wondered that too. Only just discovered that gem of info – cost £3 to download the details from Land Registry.

  5. Can someone give me a proper definition of asset stripping please? I just wondered as I can’t quite understand it being a squiggle instead of a dot!

    But when I was reading up on such things and trying to understand them I found this press release from the Serious Fraud Office:
    It seemed very interesting to me in light of some stuff I have been reading round here.

  6. I immediately tried to locate the half a million on the bankruptcy papers. I admit to giving up. Also tried googling Gemwhatever and came up with our own blog. No help from Companies House because we do not know who owns the company. I don’t think reporting them to the council will help because that seems to be only about an application to change the signage. Will be interesting to hear the SPCK take on this.

  7. I wonder if the covenant requiring the shop to be used for selling Christian books expired after two years from 31 October 2006?

  8. Mole Island, it’s a seven year covenant.

  9. asingleblog: this transaction took place after the bankruptcy debacle.

    But here’s another excerpt from the Land Registry documentation. This comes under the heading “Charges Register” and is dated in May:

    (06.05.2008 ) A Transfer of the land in this title and other land dated 29 November 2006 made between (1) The Society For Promoting
    Christian Knowledge and (2) John Mark Brewer and Others contains restrictive covenants.

    The proprietors of GemStar (I popped in and asked) are Grant and Emma, the people who advertised the shopfittings for sale in the Bookseller.

  10. Important Note about Comments
    Please take care not to imply any impropriety about the new owners or their business without good reason. Thank you.

  11. May be worth dropping them a note to let them know that even though we are working against the previous operators for 684 different reasons, there is no hostility to them as a business – even if we think they are in a shop where they may not be entitled to be.


  12. The new shop sells Jewellery and Gifts:
    – Jewels and precious stones crop up in the book of Revelation
    – Gifts: Christmas. Christmas:Gifts.

    A thoroughly Christian shop if you ask me (if you ignore the bit about the books). But don’t let the Mrs go window shopping.

  13. Would be nice if the £500k was used to pay off suppliers who see no hope of ever being paid.

  14. Kath

    Are you a supplier?

    Those who have taken legal action have – as far as I know – been paid. The money is probably there. At least, for now.

    The Brewer approach seems to be the bully-bully-bully-coward when faced down method.


  15. The transfer dated 29 November 2006 between SPCK and Brewer is a public document and anyone can obtain a copy from the Land Registry. Then we can all see exactly what the covenants might be. Does anyone know the Land Registry title number? It will be in the format DN123456.

  16. I was a supplier yes, however, am still owed a relatively small amount of money, so this probably wouldn’t cover the cost of a legal bill. Any other suggestions or should I just bit the bullet so to speak and look into action. Phil G has my email address for any other correspondance outwith this blog or contact via my own website.

  17. Hi Kath

    I think Phil will probably be in contact soon. We are looking into what we can do to help suppliers co-ordinate themselves.


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