Storm brewing in Jersey over CI Traders land plan

Click to follow
The Independent Online

CI Traders, the dominant retail and brewing group in the Channel island of Jersey, is facing a consumer boycott after finding itself in the eye of a storm over ancient land rights.

CI Traders, the dominant retail and brewing group in the Channel island of Jersey, is facing a consumer boycott after finding itself in the eye of a storm over ancient land rights.

Local politicians have called for a boycott of the company's interests, which include the island's largest supermarket chain, the Jersey franchise for Marks & Spencer and many island pubs.

CI Traders owns a 12 per cent stake in Les Pas Holdings, a company which is in dispute with the Jersey government over ownership of parts of the seafront, where development of reclaimed land has massively increased property values.

Islanders are up in arms over a proposed out-of-court settlement which will give Les Pas a £10m plot of land and outline planning permission to build 100 luxury flats. A petition against the deal has attracted more than 7,000 signatures and some of the anger has been focused on CI Traders, the only publicly-quoted company with a shareholding in Les Pas.

Ted Vibert, a senator, one of Jersey's most senior politicians, called for consumers to boycott CI Traders on a local radio debate at the weekend and has threatened to picket its Le Riche stores.

CI Traders, which has been considering making a bid for the UK pubs group Eldridge Pope, was formed a year ago from the merger of Le Riche and Ann Street Brewery and, at £180m, is one of the top 10 companies listed on the AIM. Ann Street was the original investor in Les Pas.

Les Pas claims ownership of the disputed foreshore through ancient feudal rights which it purchased in the Eighties. Jersey authorities claim that they bought the area from its rightful owner, the Crown.

Members of the island's parliament are meeting in secret today to discuss the legal advice behind the proposal to settle out of court, but the issue has already aroused strong feelings among Jersey's population of 80,000. Several politicians have holdings in CI Traders and there have been repeated claims of conflicts of interest.

CI Traders shares were down a penny yesterday at 78.5p. The chief executive, Martin Bralsford, refused to comment on the controversy or the threat of a consumer boycott yesterday. The company said last month that it was "aware of the public debate taking place in Jersey" but would be making no comment on the proposed settlement because the issue could yet end up in the courts.

Comments