Anxious retailers have demanded reassurance from retail systems provider Torex Retail after it became the subject of a Serious Fraud Office investigation this week.
The Oxfordshire-based company suspended dealing in its shares following a shock dire profits warning. And as Forecourt Trader went to press, news came that chief executive Neil Mitchell and non-executive chairman Chris Moore had stepped down and a restructure specialist appointed.
Torex Retail supplies and supports the Iridium epos and Prism back-office systems - which industry sources say could be in use on as many as 1,500 forecourts.
The Petroleum and Convenience (P&C) division of the company also provides a range of other forecourt services, having rapidly expanded through a series of acquisitions as it sought to become a ’one-stop shop’.
It has a major maintenance support contract with Somerfield, and its epos systems are used by many leading independent retailers, including the majority of the Lakeside Group, whose 28 members operate almost 100 sites.
David Dovey, the Lakeside Group’s facilitator, said he was pushing to get information for his members as quickly as possible."Torex customers do deserve to be communicated with as fully as is possible at the moment and as early as is possible."
Meanwhile, Richard Quarmby, managing director of Torex Retail’s UK P&C division, said: "We can’t comment on the plc issues, but from an operational view it’s business as usual."
The P&C division is generally believed to be the more stable and profitable side of Torex’s business, so retailers are concerned but philosophical about the outcome of last month’s events. They just want news from the company.
Cambridgeshire-based retailer Jonathan James, who has three forecourts with Torex equipment, said: "Communication has been poor - it’s just all Chinese whispers."
- Retailers should address their concerns to Richard Quarmby or sales director Steve Watts at Torex Retail P&C on 01527 557130.