Concern mounts over store debts

ANXIOUS customers of Countrywide Interiors, the Huntingdon furniture store that was burned to the ground last week, have been promised they will get refunds. Readers have been contacting The Hunts Post to register their concerns about money they have pai

ANXIOUS customers of Countrywide Interiors, the Huntingdon furniture store that was burned to the ground last week, have been promised they will get refunds.

Readers have been contacting The Hunts Post to register their concerns about money they have paid up front for furniture that they will not now receive.

One customer e-mailed the paper to say: "I am sure the fire was a shock to all, and my condolences go out to all concerned. However, my parents have paid for a bed from this shop and now they cannot get in touch with anyone from the business.

"We are anxious to either chase delivery of their new bed or recoup the money that they have already paid."


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Another woman telephoned for advice saying she was expecting to have a carpet fitted today (Wednesday) but could not get in touch with the firm.

Norman Edge, the owner of Countrywide Interiors, told The Hunts Post on Monday that his customers would not receive the goods they had paid for. There would be no deliveries - but he pledged to refund their money "within two to three weeks".

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Mr Edge said: "There will be no delivery of goods. We cannot provide immediate refunds. Our bank account has been frozen and our cheques have been cancelled because we cannot be sure whether cheques have been stolen. We can't do anything except through our insurance company and that will take time. We will have to have new cheque books issued."

Mr Edge said that his business had been running on an overdraft and he had no funds to return people's money except through insurance payments.

However, he pledged: "Everyone who has paid us money will receive a refund if they send us a copy of their invoice to our mail box. We are picking up all our mail. They can also telephone my manager, Graham Phillips, on a number that we have left on a notice outside the factory."

Last week Mr Edge said he was certain the fire was arson and that he had been about to launch five new products he had designed.

"There's not a word that would even qualify to describe how I feel," he said.

About 60 firefighters fought the blaze in the early hours of Monday, September 24, at the premises just off St Peter's Road. Crews from Kimbolton, Papworth, St Neots, St Ives, Sawtry and Huntingdon were called just after three in the morning. It took over two hours to get the fire under control. The fire is being treated as suspicious.

Mr Edge told The Hunts Post: "It was definitely deliberate - the back door was open - they took what they wanted and on the way out they dropped a match. There is no doubt that it is arson. I left the shop at 3.30pm on Sunday and locked up as I have done for the past 20 years."

INFORMATION: The postal address for Countrywide Interiors is: PO Box 24, The Sorting Office, Royal Mail, St Peter's Road, Huntingdon.

The telephone number for Graham Phillips is: 07825 654 758.

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