Sidmouth shopping centre will close

SIDMOUTH Indoor Shopping Centre is to close at the end of January leaving worried stallholders searching for new shops and staff facing unemployment. Keith Farnes, manager, was told the news he was dreading by the leaseholder Ian Crabtree after the Heral

SIDMOUTH Indoor Shopping Centre is to close at the end of January leaving worried stallholders searching for new shops and staff facing unemployment.

Keith Farnes, manager, was told the news he was dreading by the leaseholder Ian Crabtree after the Herald reported speculation of its closure.

He said: "I got the phonecall on Friday night after the newspaper came out. He said it was not a viable business anymore and had decided to end it."

Stallholders have been given notice to cease trading by the end of January and to vacate the premises by February 27.


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Mr Crabtree told the Herald this week: "The shopping centre has closed due to financial circumstances caused by the current economic climate, like any business the outgoings must be covered by the receipts and this has not been the case for some time."

Stallholders now have the task of searching for other premises in Sidmouth.

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Mr Farnes, who also owns the pet shop in the centre, added: "Everyone's a bit shellshocked. It is a shame because there are businesses and shops in here that are unique to Sidmouth and those products will no longer be available.

"Hopefully - if we're lucky- those who want to relocate will be able to but at the minute there is nothing available."

In a letter to stallholders, sent this week by Mr Crabtree, he said: "Over the last 15 years the shopping centre has been faced with the gradual erosion of margins as UK shopping habits have changed and as a consequence licensees have refused or been unable to pay higher licence fees whilst the running costs and expenses of the shopping centre have gradually increased."

He said he has "always resisted the temptation" to charge successful businesses a higher licence fee and the centre could not continue operating with a "cashflow deficit."

Despite numerous attempts the Herald was unable to contact the owner of the building, Leon Percik, and it is not yet known what is to become of the. Tesco once again denied any involvement and a spokesperson said they are not looking for another site in Sidmouth.

Richard Eley, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "It is disappointing for all the businesses concerned, many of which have been there for many years and are clearly operating profitably and are successful. There are relatively few empty shops in Sidmouth so finding alternative premises may be quite difficult.

"The Chamber of Commerce obviously hopes they will be able to continue in business.

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