T-shirt supplier calls Paul Turner-Mitchell ‘a hypocrite’, prompting legal threat from indie advocate.
Fashion retailer and independents’ champion Paul Turner-Mitchell has been branded “a hypocrite” by T-shirt supplier Original Geek after failing to pay an invoice for £982.80 that has been outstanding for nine months.
Turner-Mitchell, director of Rochdale fashion business 25 Ten Boutique, is considering legal action against Leeds-based Original Geek for what he called “wild accusations” by its chief executive Matt Peacock.
The debt relates to orders from September to November, 2012. Original Geek claims Turner-Mitchell repeatedly promised to pay the debt. It instructed collection agency Final Demand to recoup the debt in March. As Drapers went to press the money was still unpaid. In an email to Original Geek last week, Turner-Mitchell wrote: “I will ensure that the monies due are clear by July 31.”
Original Geek was founded in late 2011 and has sold around 70,000 T-shirts to date, said Peacock. He expressed sympathy for independents in the trading climate but is appalled that Turner-Mitchell continues to publicly comment on the difficulties small retailers face while withholding payment to a small supplier.
“We’d be dead in the water if everyone did the same as Paul,” Peacock said. “It seems very hypocritical to be so brazen and put yourself on a pedestal as a reputable retailer and always point the finger.
It’s been nearly a year [since the first order] and our debt is still unpaid.”
Turner-Mitchell is a regular retail commentator and is outspoken in his support for independents. He has teamed with former Focus DIY boss Bill Grimsey on an alternative report to the Portas Review, due in the autumn.
Turner-Mitchell told Drapers his failure to pay the debt had been “an oversight”. “I fully accept there was a delay making payment for which I profusely apologise. The reason why I talk about small businesses is not an ego trip. I put my head above the parapet to help small businesses, so to use that against me seems disingenuous.”
He is considering legal proceedings for defamation for comments made by Peacock in emails to the press.
The 25 Ten Boutique on Yorkshire Street in Rochdale closed this spring, but the business has continued to trade online. The store is due to reopen on July 27 in Littleborough, a few miles from Rochdale. In last week’s email to Original Geek, Turner-Mitchell wrote: “It has taken us longer than hoped securing new premises and fitting the same so the company has been without income from the bricks-and-mortar side for nearly three months now.”