Stitched up: Hornchurch wedding shop owner allegedly moves to Florida leaving couples in the lurch
PUBLISHED: 15:00 23 November 2017
Wedding plans across Havering have been complicated after a bridalwear shop closed unexpectedly and its owner allegedly moved to Florida.
Hornchurch wedding retailer Couture Bride & Groom closed on Sunday, with the premises’ landlord claiming shop owner Steve Goodchild had fled to Florida without paying rent – an announcement made by a sign placed in the shop’s window.
Couples due to be married who had placed deposits on wedding attire discovered the news as photos of the sign were shared on community Facebook groups.
Collier Row resident Rich Bonner, 32, placed his order for 10 suits from the shop in mid-June, paying a 50pc deposit of £550.
Upon learning the shop had closed, he said: “I tried to call but there was no answer. I tried to email him and there was no response.”
Rich has fortunately found replacement suits thanks to Anthony’s Formal Wear, a wedding attire shop in Billericay, who announced they will support affected couples at short notice.
Gidea Park resident Kerry Harrison, who had ordered 13 suits for her wedding on December 16, said: “The difficult thing is that I’ve got a little boy who is two years old and so he needs to have a suit made especially.”
Commenting on whether she can recover her £587 deposit, she added: “The bank said we’re not covered for fraud and we can’t get our money back unless they go into liquidation.”
The Recorder reached out to Steve Goodchild for comment and received no response.
Responding to the allegations, Cllr Osman Dervish, Havering Council’s cabinet member for environment & community safety, said: “In general we advise, where possible, that consumers making large advance or deposit payments for goods worth more than £100 to be delivered at a future date use a credit card as that provides additional protection for the buyer in the event of a business closing unexpectedly.
“Alternatively buyers who have used a debit card for a deposit or part payment should contact their bank to enquire about ‘chargeback protection’.”
Affected customers can call Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454040506.