St Albans shops closing due to poor trade

PUBLISHED: 09:38 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 06 May 2010

Paul Wade of Near, Far and Fair farm shop

Paul Wade of Near, Far and Fair farm shop

THREE city centre shops are facing closure because of poor trade. Nicolas Wines, Homewares UK and farm shop Near, Far and Fair all trade at the northern end of St Peter s Street – a part of the city which has long been earmarked for the opening of a budge

THREE city centre shops are facing closure because of poor trade.

Nicolas Wines, Homewares UK and farm shop Near, Far and Fair all trade at the northern end of St Peter's Street - a part of the city which has long been earmarked for the opening of a budget hotel.

Paul Wade, 42, of Ostler Street, St Albans, who runs the farm shop, said it was an "experiment that appears to be failing."

Maintaining his home-made loaves and jams and free-range eggs were competitively priced, he went on: "I wanted to give it a go for between six to eight months to see if there was enough demand but I'm afraid I am going to have to pull the plug."

The other two shops blamed high rents and falling trade on their decisions to close.

Cllr Melvyn Teare, the council's portfolio holder for economic regeneration, said: "I have always said St Albans went into the recession late and would come out it late. But I somehow don't think the economic downturn is to blame here."

And Cllr Chris Brazier, planning portfolio holder, said while he was very sympathetic about the plight of the shops, he felt that the reasons for their failure were diverse.

He explained: "The farm shop may have suffered competition from our various farmers' markets and foreign market days. As for the wine shop, I think it was up against steep competition pricewise from Tesco's and the homeware shop just may not be the right type of shop for a place like St Albans."

He pointed out that the landlord of all three shops also owned the empty McDonald's building and he understood he was still interested in selling his properties off to a hotel operator.

Cllr Brazier said: "This site has been identified as a suitable place for a budget hotel and I think the landlord has deliberately let these properties out on short term lets in case a deal materialises.

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