Vance Miller

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Vance Miller
Born 1965 (age 48–49)
Rochdale, Lancashire, England, UK
Occupation Entrepreneur

Vance Miller is an entrepreneur from Rochdale, Lancashire, in England.[1][2] Miller, whose business practices have attracted controversy,[3] has been referred to in the media as "The Kitchen Gangster" after being featured the 2004 BBC series "The Kitchen Gangster".[4]

Biography[edit]

In 1977, Vance Miller got his first job at age 11, earning £200 per week for cleaning cars. By 1981, he was dealing in antiques and vintage cars from a shop in Butter Lane Market in Manchester.[5]

Miller is the former executive director of Maple Industries which operate from Maple Mill in the Hathershaw area of Oldham. On 21 April 2009, Maple Mill was partially destroyed in a fire.[3]

Vance Miller featured in the documentary aired on Channel 4 called Brits Get Rich in China.[6] Miller is the subject of a book entitled: Kitchen Gangster? The Story of a Serial Entrepreneur.[5]

Miller is currently the chief executive officer of Maple Industries China[7]

In November 1995, he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on counts of kidnapping and affray, following an incident in which he was ruled to have kidnapped two people he caught breaking into his mother's home and detained them against their will.[8] In February 1999, he was detained over an altercation over a minor pollution complaint near his Birtle Mill, Bury business premises. In related incidents his company was fined £28,500 for health and safety breaches and he was convicted for damaging the car of a journalist.[9][10]

In 2006 Miller's home in Ramsbottom was attacked twice in arson attacks.[11]

In July 2007, the magazine Real Business printed an article and interview with Vance Miller written by Charles Orton-Jones, covering his business history and current activities in some depth.[7] Orton-Jones describes his business achievements as staggering and states his attention detail is inconsistent with his reputation as a shyster.[7]

Trading Standards actions against Miller[edit]

In 2002 the Office of Fair Trading instigated the "Stop Now" order and he became the first person in Britain to be handed one after supplying a kitchen which was not sold as advertised.[12]

In June 2003, defending himself without lawyers, he was called "intelligent, cunning, manipulative but above all arrogant" by a Manchester judge who jailed him for nine months for contempt of court when he failed to improve operations at his Oldham-based company, Maple Industries. He was released 2 weeks later on the undertaking to employ business efficiency consultants.[13]

In 2006 the Greater Manchester Police and Trading Standards raided two residential properties, one belonging to Miller, as well as the company's Maple Mill offices and factory. As a result of the raids four people, including Miller, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud in what was one of Tradings Standards' biggest ever operations.[14] The company was able to continue trading despite Trading Standards seizing property in a bid to pursue its case against the company.

On 21 February 2007, under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, Trading Standards Officers in Oldham ordered Vance Miller, again trading from Maple Mill, to immediately withdraw four types of minibikes from sale. The products failed national safety provisions.[15]

On 28 May 2008, Vance Miller was issued a six-month suspended sentence and a £90,000 fine by the Manchester Crown Court in relation to an alleged breach of the Stop Now legislation brought against him in 2003. The judge presiding over the case, however, has noted that "there was evidence of 'a significant and continuing reduction in complaints' against Miller's business since the summer of 2007." The judge noted that since the Office of Fair Trading was unable to provide any evidence of breaches since early 2006 then Miller was to be sentenced on the assumption that no breaches had taken place since then.[16]

In January 2010 Miller was cleared of all charges put forward by Oldham Trading Standards Department. Oldham Council's Trading Standards Department faces a £5m bill after a judge at Manchester Crown Court dropped all charges against Vance Miller. The judge who presided over the case against Miller heavily criticised Tony Allen, the head of Trading Standards of being an unreliable witness.[17] Clearing Miller of conspiracy to defraud customers, Judge Jonathan Foster QC told Manchester Crown Court: "Some may think that this trial has been a waste of time, money and emotional commitment. The decision to investigate was not based on any reliable material. There was no discernible increase in complaints. I am concerned there may have been other reasons for the decision to investigate." The investigation was flawed from the start by Tony Allen's unsubstantiated claims and evidence." [18]

The trading standards claims and trial were reported as a £4m vendetta against Miller.[18]

Alleged kidnapping[edit]

On 24 May 2007 the Manchester Evening News reported that Vance Miller was on the run in China after evading police officers who had called at his Oldham Mill to arrest him over an alleged kidnap involving 2 men breaking into his mother's house.[19] Coincidentally, a few days later, on 28 May 2007, Channel 4 screened a documentary that followed Miller and two other British entrepreneurs doing business in China.[20]

Maple Mill burns down[edit]

On 21 April 2009, Miller's main kitchen factory and base of operations in Oldham caught fire, severely damaging the six-story Maple Mill. The fire is thought to have started near the diesel generator of the factory and ignited the contents of propane cylinders and pallets.[21] Sixty firefighters used ten fire engines and "a number of specialist appliances, including two aerial appliances, to contain the fire."[21] Fire Service spokesman Paul Duggan said: "The fire is thought to have started in a diesel generator then spread to some wooden pallets and propane cylinders nearby, some of which exploded as a result. There were people inside at the time but there were no reported injuries or any reports of anyone missing." Local townspeople near the area had been left without water or very little.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anthony, Andrew (3 June 2007). "Sisters are doing it for themselves". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Billen, Andrew (29 May 2007). "Last nights TV". The Times (London). Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Britton, Paul (21 April 2009). "Blaze Wrecks Kitchen Trader's Mill". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  4. ^ The Kitchen Gangster, BBC Press Office, 22 December 2003. URL accessed 6 November 2006.
  5. ^ a b http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kitchen-Gangster-Story-Serial-Entrepreneur/dp/0954401190
  6. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/may/29/tvandradio.comment
  7. ^ a b c I'll Have What Vance Miller Is Having
  8. ^ The Times; 28 November 1996; "How to qualify as a witness"
  9. ^ Manchester Evening News; 27 July 2001; The villain Luxury life of boss with a dark past
  10. ^ News of the World; The dead hard sell; 14 February 1999
  11. ^ Gangster link at arson farm, Halifax Today, 17 August 2006. URL accessed 6 November 2006.
  12. ^ Rogue trader is under fire, Oldham Advertiser, 23 August 2006. URL accessed 6 November 2006.
  13. ^ Customs seize £66k from Miller as he boards China flight, Oldham Advertiser, 14 April 2006. URL accessed 6 November 2006.
  14. ^ "Four held after kitchen firm raid". BBC News. 29 November 2006. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  15. ^ "Vance Miller ordered to withdraw mini motos". oldham.gov.uk. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2007. 
  16. ^ "Miller Avoids Jail". Manchester Evening News. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2008. 
  17. ^ - http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2804973/5m-kitchen-trial-collapses.html "5m kitchen trial collapses". The Sun. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "The victim of a 4m -vendetta". The Express. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  19. ^ Manchester Evening News: Rogue Trader on the Run
  20. ^ Guardian Review: Brits Get Rich In China
  21. ^ a b Andrew Penman. "Huge blaze destroys factory of kitchen conman Vance Miller". Daily Mirror. MGN. Retrieved 23 April 2009. 

External links[edit]