(FranchisePick.Com) Universal Express, Inc. - a company that the S.E.C. said “appears to exist primarily as a vehicle for fraud,” that failed to pay its $21.9 million fine to the federal government, that has a net loss of $21 million so far this fiscal year and that could be shut down at any moment – has exciting news:
Universal Express is now offering luggage delivery franchises!
February, 2006, Universal Express signed on with consulting company Francorp to develop its franchise program documentation, according to a company press release (“We believe that Luggage Express will be one of the great successes in our history,” stated L. Patrick Callaway, President of Francorp”) A year and a half later, Richard A. Altomare, Chairman and CEO of Universal Express, Inc. said “The road to becoming a Franchisor of Luggage Delivery services was long, but well worth it.”
The delay is understandable, considering the minor distraction of a civil suit filed by the S.E.C. against Universal; its chief executive, Richard A. Altomare; and its general counsel, Chris G. Gunderson. According to the New York Times, a Federal District Court judge ruled in favor of the S.E.C., ordered the defendants to pay $21.9 million and banned Mr. Altomare from ever serving as an officer or director of a public company.
A Franchise That Really Delivers… Luggage.
According to a Universal Express press release, “LEAP is a Franchise program that grants protected territories of ‘at least’ 500,000 people in each territory to individuals that wish to operate a luggage service business, specializing in the door-to-door delivery of luggage, as well as bicycles, golf clubs, skis and a wide variety of other items. The Franchisee will have the opportunity to market their territory and increase sales, with the efficient and established Luggage Express.”
Said Richard Altomare: “The Luggage Express business model is a sound, proven business that business owners will embrace and help change the way Americans travel.”
However, those kill-joys at the New York Times had this to say about franchising’s newest addition:
The Securities and Exchange Commission, stating that Universal Express “appears to exist primarily as a vehicle for fraud,” has asked a federal judge to appoint a receiver to take control of it. Universal Express is a penny stock company that has sold billions of unregistered shares to the public.
The motion, filed in United States District Court in Manhattan at the close of business on Thursday, could lead to a closing of the company, which has reported losses far in excess of its revenues but has stayed afloat through the stock sales….
In its filing, the S.E.C. said, “Universal Express has since 2001 existed primarily as a vehicle to flood unregistered stock into the public market at values fraudulently inflated by the dissemination of false and misleading statements” and said the “conduct is continuing unabated.”
Hmmm… perhaps LEAP will win Entrepreneur’s recently vacated #1 Top New Franchise for 2007 designation. I hear it’s available. (sorry… inside joke)
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH RICHARD ALTOMARE, UNIVERSAL EXPRESS OR THE LUGGAGE EXPRESS FRANCHISE? SHARE YOUR OPINION. LEAVE A COMMENT.
Press Release: Universal Express Retains Francorp…
NYT Article: S.E.C. Requests Receiver for Universal Express
Inside Joke: iSold It Dropped from Entrepreneur 500,