Worthing builder owed more than £100,000 for work on new department store in ‘crippling’ debt

A Worthing builder fears his business could collapse after being owed more than £100,000 for work on a new department store.

Karl Tandy, 33, said he was contracted by 15:17 Ltd to carry out £120,000 of renovations on the old Beales store in South Street last year.

According to Mr Tandy, his firm, KT Building Ltd, was initially paid a £31,000 deposit by the building’s landlord, St Clair Developments, but since then has received only £7,500 – paid by 15:17 Ltd.

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Mr Tandy said that after he had invoiced the department store for the outstanding £101,000, he was told responsibility for payment fell with his landlord.

1517 Store in Worthing. Pic S Robards SR2103302 SUS-210330-195444001

He said the six-figure debt – the result of dozens of employees working for five weeks straight – could prove fatal for his company.

“We are not a massive construction company – we got fortunate with some big projects and this sort of debt is not easy to carry. It’s crippling us,” said Mr Tandy, who set up KT Building eight years ago.

“It’s an absolutely soul-destroying position to be in,” he added.

“I’ve invested all my time and all my money into this business, trying to progress it, and it’s almost been pulled away from us.”

1517 Store in Worthing. Pic S Robards SR2103302 SUS-210330-195421001

15:17 opened in South Street at the beginning of December, offering independent traders rented space on the shop floor, alongside a food hall.

Mr Tandy said St Clair Developments had put him in touch with 15:17 after he had completed work on some other town-centre shops owned by the landlord.

He said he ordinarily employed about 20 staff, but took on extra help to finish the job on time.

Mr Tandy added work was regularly being undertaken 24 hours a day and that ‘additional bits and bobs’ requested by 15:17 had been accommodated.

All were quoted and agreed by the company before work began, Mr Tandy said. After finishing the work in mid-December, KT Building sent 15:17 an invoice for around £111,000 but did not hear back.

Mr Tandy contacted 15:17 in January and in February was contacted by the company’s chief executive, Mercier Mainwaring, who agreed to pay £7,500 towards the total.

In emails following the call, Mr Mainwaring told Mr Tandy responsibility for payment rested with the landlord, Mr Tandy said.

Outstanding quotes from KT Building Ltd showed the company was still owed £103,541.34, taking into account interest and late payment fees.

Mr Mainwaring, said: “With regard to the builder, we can confirm we are in dispute about works charged to ourselves that sit within the landlord’s enabling work.

“We are trying to reach a positive outcome for all parties involved.”

St Clair Developments was approached for comment but declined to offer a statement.