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JESUS GROUP 'THREAT TO BUSINESS' - CLAIM


Source : 07/08/1981 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

A builders merchants in Daventry feels its livelihood in under threat rrom a company set up in the town by a religious group.

The Bugbrooke-based Jesus Fellowship, trading under the name of Goodness Foods has set up a cash and carry warehouse on Daventry's Long March industrial estate and attached to it is a company which it also owns, called Towcester Building Supplies.

One established building material supplier claims, that Towcester Building Supplies is drastically undercutting it and is a real threat to its business. Customers have already been lost to the new company.

Mr. Rodney Goad of SRBE Daventry Ltd, said: 'Towcester Building Supplies came to Daventry in April. I was invited to their premises and shown round.'

'Mr. Martin Davis, who is manager there, said he hoped that we could all work together and that there would not be and undercutting or direct threat to our business.'

'But TBS is now undercutting so drastically that they do not appear to be running on a commercial basis. Things like cement and sand are considerably cheaper there and we are losing custom,' he said.

Towcester Building Supplies is quoting cement prices at 2.50 plus VAT for a bag collected and 2.75 plus VAT delivered.

Mr. Goad said his price was 3.15 to the trade and 3.46 to the public.

The Jesus Fellowship's company charges 9.20 per ton of sand delivered and SRBE charges 10.50. Other materials, too, show similar differences such as plaster, which Mr. Goad claims Towcester Building Supplies sell at pounds under the recommended retail price.

Mr. Goad said: 'I understand that the Fellowship's employees work for something like 50p plus board and lodgings, and obviously this would cut their overheads considerably.'

'It is my view that they are taking business activities from bonafide traders.'

'As much as possible we are trying to ignore them and hoping they go away, but certainly they are posing a short term threat.'

Mr. Martin Davies of Towcester Building Supplies said: 'I cannot make any comment really. We are operating in a proper professional business manner'.

Another company owned by the Fellowship is Skaino, which has divisions involved in plumbing, building and transport. Daventry trader Mr. Ron Olivera of Drayton Heating and Plumbing claims he, too, cannot compete with them.

Mr. Olivera said: 'I submitted a 50,000 tender for work on the Wheatsheaf Hotel which is being renovated in Daventry. I kept my estimates very tight but I understand Skaino won the contract and I understand on a figure considerably lower than mine.'

'I believe that Skaino operates on much lower labour overheads. I don't mind fair competition but I cannot match them'.

Mr. Resham Singh, one of the consortium renovating the Wheatsheaf, who has dealings with Towcester Building Supplies and Skaino said: 'I am not prepared to reveal the figure of Skaino's winning tender for work at the Wheatsheaf.'

'As I see it there is no such thing as undercutting. Who knows what pay structure the Fellowship uses but if these people employed by them are willing to commit themselves to such an organisation for whatever reason, what has it got to do with anyone else?'

'Their craftsmanship is marvellous and they are intelligent people. My dealings with Skaino and TBS have been on a totally professional basis.'

When a spokesman for the Jesus Fellowship was asked about the complaints, he said: 'No comment'.