Sidmouth shop centre closure: traders were left in the dark

ANXIOUS stallholders face a worrying Christmas as they prepare for the closure of Sidmouth Indoor Shopping Centre. Several traders say they feel bitter at the lack of consultation and notice given to their thriving businesses, some of which have been oper

ANXIOUS stallholders face a worrying Christmas as they prepare for the closure of Sidmouth Indoor Shopping Centre.

Several traders say they feel bitter at the lack of consultation and notice given to their thriving businesses, some of which have been operating in the centre since it opened in 1984.

Soula Sherlock, partner of the Central Market Caf�, said: "We want to highlight the bad timing because of Christmas and it doesn't give us much time to find alternative premises.

"We've got a really great customer base and it is more than just a business. We have something special but now we don't know what is round the corner."

Calvin Marchant, owner of The Engraver Ltd, said: "We have been here for ten years and built the business up and it is successful. We've always paid rent and bills on time or in advance and to have only a couple of months notice- it's not good.

He said the business will still trade "one way or the other" but added: "I've got a mortgage and kids. It's just a very worrying time."

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A stallholder, who does not want to be named, said traders had been left lumbered with extra stock ordered in for Christmas and he would have to sell his goods at a loss to shift them.

He said not only the 40 stallholders and staff will be affected but their suppliers will also be hit, including several businesses in the South West.

"I spend �80,000 a year on produce from South West suppliers," he added.

A Stitches of Sidmouth worker said the future is now uncertain for a lot of staff.

She told the Herald: "There are a lot of people's jobs and livelihoods at stake. It's a shocking way to treat people.

"We are all doing well here and people come back to Sidmouth because of the shops here- we will be missed."

Businesses in the market used to operate on a 12-month licence but this year the licences were not renewed- leaving many traders wondering about the market's future.

Mr Marchant added: "I think something has been in the pipeline for a long time. It would have been nice to have known the truth from the start."

Ian Crabtree said he had no comment to make other than he had given stallholders three months notice.

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