Danny Evans took the first steps towards building a future for his sons Josh and Luke yesterday with a trip to Centrelink and another to the bank as he attempts to pay off a $500,000 mortgage without a job.
His wife, Therese, 48, died of a suspected heart attack on the weekend after enduring months of financial pressure associated with their Wendy’s ice-cream franchise.
Mr Evans and his wife were locked out of their Wendy’s ice-cream franchise in Singleton’s Gowrie Street Mall last week because they owed the company $7000.
Mr Evans said his wife was under enormous pressure from the couple’s financial predicament that he believed was caused by a combination of ignorance on their part and a franchise model that was designed to fail.
‘‘Yes I do think they [Wendy’s] are to blame,’’ Mr Evans said.
‘‘But my wife and I have to take some blame as well because ignorance is not an excuse.
‘‘The stress of it all was too much for us, but the model of how this franchise is supposed to run is unrealistic.
‘‘My wife was under a huge amount of stress, but I have to take some of the blame for that as well because she wanted to do the books and I just left it to her and probably should have taken more of an interest in how we were going.’’
The couple had drawn down $200,000 against their own home and $300,000 against Mrs Evans’s mother’s home to finance franchises in Singleton and Cessnock.
They pulled out of the Cessnock franchise in June this year which caused angst between the Evans and Wendy’s.
The franchising industry is under constant pressure for what many former franchise owners have described as ‘‘unconscionable conduct’’.
‘‘This is an endemic problem in Australia at the moment,’’ National Federation of Independent Business president John Farrell said.
‘‘The profitability of churning these franchises from one owner to another is five to 10 times greater than letting them be successful.’’
Wendy’s chief executive Rob McKay responded to the Newcastle Herald via email, and said Wendy’s was ‘‘deeply saddened’ to hear the news.
‘‘Wendy’s decision to withdraw the franchise agreement with the Evans two weeks ago was an action of last resort,’’ the statement said.
‘‘It followed more than 12months of discussions over the performance of their two stores, and numerous offers of assistance, which were repeatedly refused.’’
Singleton residents had placed a memorial photo of Mrs Evans and flowers out the front of the ice-cream shop, and Mr McKay said it was temporarily closed.