Exeter Grow Coffee House owes £250k in staggering trail of debts

Grow Coffee House on South Street, Exeter -Credit:Mary Stenson/DevonLive
Grow Coffee House on South Street, Exeter -Credit:Mary Stenson/DevonLive

An Exeter café which closed suddenly last month has left a staggering trail of debts of more than £250,000. The firm, which also operated a café in Cullompton, entered liquidation earlier this month.

Loyal customers of Grow Coffee House were left stunned when their main branch on Exeter's South Street began displaying signs in the window which said: "Sorry we are closed". At the time, no explanation was given for the closure and the company's website was swiftly shut down.

It was later revealed that Grow Coffee House Limited had appointed liquidators and a winding up notice was issued. Until now, it has been unclear how the business found itself in this position.

A statement of affairs has now been published on Companies House, which show hundreds of thousands of pounds are owed to 20 creditors. While they have assets, including stock and equipment, estimated to be worth £6,298.46, this will not cover the debts.

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£6,212.01 will be paid to nine members of staff, leaving just £86.45 in assets for other preferential creditors. This means HMRC is likely to be left £85,169.41 short of what it has claimed. Among other creditors that are owed money are a number of food and drink suppliers including Hunts Food Group, Regency Wines, The Devon Sandwich Company, Westcountry Fruit Sales and Wibi Foods Ltd.

Grow Coffee House Ltd was owned by Joff Alexander-Frye and Dan Frye who continue to run guitar shop Life Guitars Co. in McCoys Arcade and marketing company Grow Marketing. Both companies are listed as creditors in the cafe's statement of affairs, with Grow Marketing Limited owed £5,083.33 and Life Guitars Co. Limited owed £38,640.

The pair first opened the Exeter coffee shop in 2019 on the ground floor of Concord House on South Street. Serving up a range of coffees, cakes and light lunches, Grow Coffee House soon amassed a loyal customer base and rave reviews. Visitors praised "amazing staff", "delicious" food and a "warm and inclusive atmosphere".