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Firm called Voodoo in row over name says: "We don't do black magic"

A firm's move to new rented premises fell through as its trading name conflicts with the landlord's religious beliefs

Gareth Davies, of Voodoo SMS outside Independence House, Lindley

A company called Voodoo SMS has abandoned plans for a move to new rented premises – because the landlord objects to the name.

The SMS (social media services) marketing firm said its planned move to Independence House at Holly Bank Road in Lindley collapsed following three months of talks after the landlord’s solicitors emailed the firm saying the landlord was “not comfortable with” its trading name – and that the term “Voodoo” was not to be displayed “anywhere on any part of the property so as to be visible from the outside of the property.”

Voodoo SMS said it had given notice on its premises at Turnbridge Mills on Quay Street expecting to move to Independence House – but had to arrange to take alternative space at the mill building after the move fell through.

Gareth Davies, managing director of Voodoo SMS, branded the situation “unbelievable”, adding: “For the record, we do not conduct black magic, we offer a market-leading bulk SMS platform to businesses.”

Mr Davies said that in May the firm had booked a meeting about renting space at Independence House with Gareth Henderson, managing director of Orchard Facilities Management and the building’s landlord. The following day, Mr Henderson sent an initial informal agreement to Voodoo SMS and both parties instructed their solicitors to start proceedings.

However, Voodoo SMS said that on deadline day for signing the leases Mr Henderson phoned Mr Davies and asked why the business was called Voodoo SMS. He also said the company was not allowed to have anything relating to Voodoo displayed in the new office premises as it would be “against his Christian beliefs” and that he “doesn’t believe in black magic.”

Gareth Davies, of Voodoo SMS outside Independence House, Lindley

An a statement, a spokesperson for Independence House said that from the outset negotiations regarding the lease were conducted with Telecom IQ – another business owned by Mr Davies. Only in August was Independence House made aware that it was intended to put up signage under a trading name rather than the company name that appeared on the lease agreement.

Mr Davies said the landlord was aware of the firm’s trading name from the outset as all email correspondence was conducted in that name. He said: “As a reputable telecommunications firm we have nothing against and fully support individuals’ religious beliefs. We just wish that Mr Henderson had expressed his at the time of arranging the meeting with us as he has been fully aware throughout this entire process of our business name.”

The spokesperson for Independence House said: “From the outset, we were in negotiations with Telecom IQ regarding a lease for office space at Independence House. Early in August 2017 we were made aware that Telecom IQ had expressed an intention to put up signage under a trading name rather than that of the company name that appeared on the legal lease agreement.

“Our lawyers informed us that Telecom IQ refused to sign the lease unless they were permitted to use the trading name in question as part of the signage at Independence House. As we were not prepared to agree to this, the deal did not go ahead.

“We have dealt with many businesses over the years and, as is to be expected, some deals have been concluded while others have not. In this case we proceeded with negotiations in good faith but unfortunately an agreement that suited all parties could not be reached.”

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