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JT Morgan sues local council for lost trade

Swansea department store JT Morgan has launched legal action against the local council in an attempt bid to reclaim £800,000 in lost trade after roadworks pushed the business into administration.

Managing director John Coles, who led a rescue of the business last week, blamed badly managed roadworks which he said were launched without consultation for the decline of the retailer, which went bust in February.

Coles said: “In June 2006 Swansea city council decided to dig up the city centre for its bendy bus scheme. That wiped 40% off our turnover. At one point we could not even get into the street the store is on, and for four weeks we could not accept deliveries. Our lawyers and the administrators have submitted a claim for £800,000 against the council. The council is consulting its insurer, which is a good sign. The money will be used to pay off creditors.”

A spokeswoman for Swansea city council said: “As far as Swansea council is concerned, we have not been served with any proceedings in this matter.”

Separately, Coles said that he and his team had led a rescue bid because they “believed strongly” in customers’ loyalty towards JT Morgan, which is the oldest and largest department store in Wales.

He said it was “business as usual” for the retailer, which reopened with a clearance event last week. He added that he still planned to relocate the shop from its Belle Vue Way site to a new location within the redeveloped former David Evans store in Swansea city centre later this year.

Coles added that he was in talks with branded suppliers such as Golddigga and Triumph about resupplying the shop, and that he was looking to bring in new concessionaires.

JT Morgan will also resume its membership-only scheme, which it axed four years ago. The store has 12,000 members, who all hold a card that allows them to shop in the store.

However, Coles said any passers-by could enter the store and fill in a membership form.

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