A LONG-running battle between the Business Secretary and an East Lancashire self-storage firm looks set to finally come to a head later this year.

Greg Clark and his department have been looking to wind up Store First Ltd, which has premises in the Blackburn and Burnley, since the summer of 2017 "in the public interest".

And now it has been announced that their petition, after several delays, will be heard at the High Court in Manchester on April 15.

But bosses at the Padiham-based self-storage outfit have previously said they will "vigorously defend" the action, which relates to four inter-related trading identities.

These include Store First Ltd, Store First Blackburn, Store First St Helens, Store First Midlands and SFM Services.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) has made repeated calls for affected investors to come forward, though they are now remaining tight-lipped ahead of the trial proceedings.

A DBEIS spokesman said: "Until such time as the trial has concluded and judgement has been handed down we are not able to provide any further information."

Store First was unavailable for further comment last night, as the Lancashire Telegraph went to press.

Before now though, the Mead Way company has insisted it has co-operated fully with the DBEIS inquiry and was "surprised" at the action being taken.

A spokesman added: "We believe firmly in our business model and that is why over the years we have worked in an open and transparent manner with the regulators explaining how our business operates."

Officials from DBEIS have also issued an alert regarding Insolvency Advisory Ltd, also known as IA Practitioners, which is said to have approached past investors regarding the case.

The department has said it is not connected with the firm.