Portsmouth mystery shopping firm to close after 30 years in business with loss of 50 jobs

THE boss of a mystery shopping firm has spoken of his sadness of having to close the business after 30 years.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 11:59 am
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 9:33 pm

Nigel Cook, who is the managing director of Portsmouth-based Douglas Stafford, is closing the business, with the loss of 50 jobs.

The firm, which is a mystery shopping company that works with businesses on improving client satisfaction and customer service, was set up by Mr Cook in 1989.

But due to competition in the market lowering prices and tight profit margins, he has made the decision to shut up shop in the new year.

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Nigel Cook, CEO of Douglas Stafford. Douglas Stafford does mystery shopper services for retailers and other types of service businesses. They celebrated 25 years in business in 2014. Picture: Allan Hutchings (142306-436)

He also cited GDPR regulations governing the use of personal data as one of the challenges that led to his decision, as they use video mystery shoppers, which has been questioned by people.

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Now, the firm is going through a transitional period, working with other businesses to ensure a smooth close-down and that the 50 employees who are being made redundant are helped into work.

He said: ‘We have spent time with employees to make sure they get help and support.

‘It’s about supporting the team to make sure it’s as smooth as possible and make sure it closes down in an orderly fashion.

‘It’s extremely sad for me. I started the business in my back bedroom in 1989 and now I’m sitting here 30 years later closing my business and making people redundant.

‘It’s very sad for the people who work for me.’

The 66-year-old, who has been a general manager in the motor industry for many years, now plans to retire from the industry completely.

He said: ‘It’s not something I wanted to do. I wanted to keep the business going, but it’s not practical for the business to do so. It’s best to identify that now so we can plan an orderly close down.’

‘There’s a very good team who have supported me through to the end.

The firm works with giants in the motor industry, such as BMW, Mercedes and Honda.

Andy Potter, an operations manager, who has worked for the firm for 14 years, said he will be sad to see the company go.

He said: ‘It’s been a joy. I have really enjoyed working here. I’ve made lots of friends and the company has been a joy to work for.’