Franchisees object to plan for Athena

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The Independent Online
FOLLOWING the storm overthe decision by Pentos to put its chain of 157 Athena poster shops into receivership, a second row is brewing over the 29 Athena franchises.

Twenty franchise holders, who own shops that operate under the Athena brand, are angry at what they claim to have been lack of support received in the last year. Some of them have spent more than £100,000 on leases, shopfittings and the right to use the Athena name. In return, they say the company was supposed to help them with co-ordinated marketing campaigns, business planning and other services. This, they maintain, it failed to do.

They now want to buy themselves out of the obligation to pay 10 per cent of their turnover in franchise fees to the collapsed Athena Holdings. The receiver, Scott Barnes of accountants Grant Thornton, wants to sell the right to these payments to another company. But the franchise holders are believed to be prepared to object to any such deal. Mark Abell, a partner of City solicitors Field Fisher Waterhouse, which is representing the group, said last week: "We are in a legal position to walk away from the franchise agreements if we wish, because our consent is required if any third party takes over."

Sanjay Patel, a franchise holder in Walthamstow, east London, is wondering how to protect his business: "I have been making my rent and franchise payments for years, but now I may have to advertise that we are not affected by the receivership."

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