Mee Healthcare ceases trading, closing 11 clinics

Health chain which included optical services ceases trading, leaving staff unpaid and customers without eye wear

22 Jun 2015 by Ryan O'Hare

A chain of health stores owned by Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, has gone bust, closing its 11 clinics across the country and leaving at least 38 full-time staff and a number of part-time staff, including locum optometrists, out of work.

Mee Healthcare, which had a number of clinics based in Sainsburys supermarkets, ceased trading on June 18 according to reports in the Daily Telegraph.

The closure is reportedly due to millions of pounds owed to employees and suppliers, with the group notifying customers it was unable to refund deposits or deliver purchased goods from Thursday (18 June).

The Daily Telegraph reports a letter to staff detailing unsuccessful attempts to sell off the business, which concluded: “Mee Healthcare [is] to cease trading with immediate effect. For the avoidance of doubt, your current employment is terminated with immediate effect.”

Established in 2012 by Ms Blair and US cofounder Gail Lese, the company underwent rapid expansion and had aimed to open 100 clinics across the UK delivering a spectrum of healthcare services including dentistry and optometry, to the public.

The group’s optical component ‘See Mee’, offered free retinal imaging to patients and a one-hour spectacles service and aimed to make up half of its stock with high-end fashion brands.

However, concerns around See Mee’s pricing structure were raised earlier this year when the Telegraph flagged the company’s ailing finances. An investigation by the newspaper showed losses of half a million pounds in two of the stores, in Ely and Leeds, in 2013. While a holding company associated with the group, Worldwide health and Fitness, posted losses of £7.7m in the same year.

A former employee told the paper that despite the high footfall in the supermarket location, “they got the pricing structure wrong. The prices [for spectacles] were too high.”

Ms Lese said: “I am personally deeply disappointed, having dedicated all of my time and significant personal assets to the venture.

“I’m extremely proud of what we achieved in helping our patients and customers, and I want to thank my colleagues sincerely for the excellent work we have done together.”

OT was unable to contact the group for further comment and Mee Healthcare’s public website is no longer active.

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