The pet supplies retailer Pets at Home has ended its interest in taking over a west London site belonging to a trading arm of the Prince’s Trust, after reports of an apparent conflict of interest between the two parties.
The youth education and employment charity will close the Fulham Palace Garden Centre, which raises funds for the charity, at the end of this month, and is likely to lease the site to another organisation.
Pets at Home’s interest in the lease raised concerns about the dual role of Amy Stirling, who in February took up both the position of chief financial officer of the charity and independent non-executive director of the retailer, and drew the attention of national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and The Times.
A spokeswoman for the charity said earlier this week that Stirling had no influence over the garden centre’s future and that it had been acting properly and legally.
The retailer’s potential involvement was opposed by local residents, and more than 2,000 people put their names to an online petition opposing the sale of the property to Pets at Home.
A spokesman for Pets at Home confirmed that it was no longer looking at the property as a potential site. It is understood that the company’s decision was made on commercial grounds and was not affected by local protests.
A spokeswoman for the Prince’s Trust said: "We can confirm that the garden centre will close at the end of the month and we can confirm that Pets at Home has no plans to acquire the site."
The garden centre employed 10 people and provided the charity with £769,000 of income in the year to 31 March 2013, down from nearly £1m the previous year. The charity had a total income of £57.9m in 2013.