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Mercer's son hits out at banks as his property firm goes under

THE son of former Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer has blamed the banks after his property business went into administration.

Iain Mercer, managing director of the Almondale Group of commercial property companies, said the business would have "continued to prosper" had he received "the support and necessary refinance we tirelessly sought to acquire from the banking sector".

Mr Mercer, who ran the Edinburgh-based company alongside his mother Anne, who was co-director, said the group had continued to meet its financial obligations to creditors and was trading successfully "right up to the moment administration became a reality".

The Almondale Group, which has a portfolio including retail, office, industrial and research and development premises across Scotland, had achieved a turnover of more than £1 million in each of the last five years, Mr Mercer said in March.

The entrepreneur said the UK and Scottish Govern-ments should do more to encourage the banks to "get their house in order" by lending more to small and medium-sized businesses.

The Almondale Group included Almondale Investments and Cosmopolitan Investments.

Mr Mercer, 36, said: "Having steered the group since the age of 28 through some of the toughest economic conditions on record, we are extremely proud of our achievements. Almondale and Cosmopolitan bow out as two respected and valued players in Scotland's property market.

"It has been an exciting, eventful and often challenging journey. So it is now with great enthusiasm that I look forward to putting my energy into new business opportunities."

The Almondale name was formed in 1994 and became a group in 2001. Some of the property holdings in the family business date to the late 1970s, before Wallace Mercer took over at Hearts in 1981.

Mr Mercer senior, whom his son cited as an inspiration, remained chairman of the club for 13 years, becoming one of the most recognisable and colourful figures in Scottish football and famously attempting to merge the club with Hibernian. He died in 2006, aged 59, following what his family described as a short and courageous battle against cancer.

Iain Mercer said he did not wish to comment further yesterday. He told a tenant on Twitter that he would visit affected businesses in coming days.

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