THE owner of a collapsed local children's clothing business today apologised to customers left out of pocket by its sudden closure - but slammed people who threatened his family online.

Alan Burns, who helped his wife Cheryl set up Chateaux De Chez in Greenock, says the pair are distraught after liquidators were called in and they were told to shut the doors at the Cathcart Street premises.

The closure sparked anger as it left numerous customers unable to access hundreds of pounds of store credit which they had accumulated at the shop, which had traded for seven years until running into financial trouble recently.

Mr Burns told the Tele that while he understood the frustrations felt by customers, abuse directed towards his family online had been a step too far and had left his family fearing for their safety.

He says disgruntled locals posted his home address online and told how at least one person called for those out of pocket to 'kick his door down'.

The father-of-three has also hit out at allegations that he and his wife had 'walked away' with customers' cash.

Mr Burns said: "We've lost everything, this was my wife's dream.

"We wanted to pass this business onto our kids, it wasn't a seven year scam.

"We're absolutely devastated, our whole life was around our customers from start to finish.

"We offered the store credit as a way for people to shop with us and it's awful that this is the way it's unfolded.

"It's not physical money that's sitting anywhere, now that the business has been liquidated we don't have control over those finances.

"It's not our decision to withhold the money, if we could have given it back we would have done it.

"All we've ever done is the best that we could for the customers, we've been a victim of circumstance.

"From a Chateaux De Chez point of view we apologise, we're not hiding from people.

"We're in a position where we can't give them their money back, they might not accept that apology but the liquidators have told us to close.

"I understand that anger and that it might linger, but to post my young family's personal information is beyond acceptable.

"It makes it personal and to be honest it leaves us fearful of being in our own house."

Mr Burns said the shop's fortunes had gone downhill rapidly since March.

After recording their best ever January and February, the 39-year-old says sales all but dried up as the impact of the cost of living crisis set in.

Despite their efforts to keep the business afloat, the couple were told by liquidators last Tuesday night that they would have to clear the premises and make their staff redundant.

Mr Burns told the Tele that his family had 'lost it all' in just two days.

He added: "We did our best to keep things going but the liquidators came in and told us the business was insolvent and we had to close.

"I had to tell my 63-year-old mother she didn't have a job, she's worked with us for seven years, it was just unfathomable.

"Our other staff are all like family too, having to tell them was horrendous.

"There have been stories online that we've left to go to Spain or that we've made off with everyone's money.

"We aren't hiding from this, we didn't post about it on social media when it happened because we were devastated and we needed time to process it all.

"But I have to respond when people start posting the address of my family on Facebook and saying they're coming to kick down our door.

"We haven't taken money or walked away with anything.

"These are vile comments - posting our address, our personal information, threats.

"We know these people are a minority of our customers and we take heart in the messages of support that we've had.

"But comments and threats like the ones I've mentioned need to stop before they affect our lives and our mental health.

"All we did was try to save our family business."