ANGRY brides-to-be fear they have been left in the lurch after a wedding shop suddenly ceased trading.
Couples who had spent thousands to get the big day of their dreams gathered at the Brides of Portsmouth shop in Elm Grove, Southsea, yesterday as news spread that it had run into trouble.
Some have only days left until they are due to get married, and fear they will find themselves without dresses, cakes, flowers, transport or photography.
Brides of Portsmouth originally closed its doors on Thursday, but told its customers – and The News – that it was shut because a brick had been thrown through its window.
By this morning, a note was put on the door directing enquiries to insolvency firm Benedict Mackenzie, of Eastleigh.
According to shop staff, Benedict Mackenzie had been called in as early as last Thursday evening.
One of those affected is Andrea Hill, 26, of Hambrook House in Milton.
She will be getting married at St Mary’s Church in Fratton on September 1.
But though she’ll be wearing her chosen dress to walk down the aisle, she is worried she will have no transport, no suits for the groomsmen, no flowers and no photographer, despite having paid for them to be supplied as part of a £4,000 package.
She was one of those who went to the shop today.
She said: ‘I don’t know what to do, and I’m just in shock. I’ve got no more money to spend.’
Some brides, whose dresses had arrived in the shop, were allowed in to collect them.
Shop worker Peta Bunyan, who has worked for the shop for the past six years, claimed she had not been paid for two months. She added: ‘We’ve got brides booked in for weddings up until 2014.’
Brides of Portsmouth hit the headlines in April, when it appeared on the TV consumer programme Rogue Traders.
Shortly afterwards it was revealed former shop owner Sharon Keates, of Church Road, Titchfield, was no longer in control of the shop and it was instead run by Joe Misford, who is believed to be abroad.
Staff claim that despite the change, Sharon Keates has still been involved in the running of the shop.
She could not be reached for comment today.
A statement from Benedict Mackenzie blamed the Rogue Traders programme for the insolvency.
It said: ‘It is with deep regret that as of today, Brides of Portsmouth Limited has been forced to cease trading.
‘An insolvency practitioner has been asked to assist the shareholders and director in placing the company into creditors voluntary liquidation.’
The statement added: ‘Brides of Portsmouth had no control over the programme and what was broadcast, and attempted to remove the programme and association of the previous owner by advising the production company of the potential consequences for all Brides’ customers if the programme was broadcast.’