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Supplier 'led up garden path' by supermarket

JUST one month ago, entrepreneur Tim Rooney's healthfood company Surf Seeds, which sells pocket-sized packets of seeds, took part in customer days organised by Superquinn to showcase his products.

Superquinn accounts for about 20pc of Mr Rooney's business, but now he's been told by the receivers that he won't get a penny of the money he's owed for products he sold to the chain in June and for almost three weeks of July.

"They led us up the garden path and then shot us in the head," he told the Irish Independent. "I can't take the high moral ground, you have to suck it up."

In 2009, Surf Seeds was backed to the tune of €100,000 on RTE's 'Dragons' Den' by Bobby Kerr and Sean Gallagher.

Mr Rooney said that, effectively, many small suppliers, if they survived, would end up supplying Superquinn for free for the year.

"My big gripe is that this is essentially all to do with a failed property play," said Mr Rooney, who stressed he remained optimistic for his business despite this week's blow.

But another small business is facing ruin. Based in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, G's Jams is a family-run business that has supplied Superquinn for about six years.

One of the family members behind it, Clive Gee, said the company faced the prospect of laying off its staff and being unable to continue trading.

It is owed €30,000 and is unlikely to be paid any of it.

"It's a real prospect that we'll have to close," he said.

Last Friday, many suppliers received cheques from Superquinn for their goods.

While most would have lodged those cheques on Monday, Superquinn's bank accounts were then frozen as the receivers were appointed and so the cheques almost certainly won't be honoured.

Irish Independent