Saturday, 19 August 2017

Shop forced to close by new development

TWO shops in Henley Market Place have closed.

TWO shops in Henley Market Place have closed.

The owner of Revolution says her decision was forced by development work while the proprietor of Blue Moon blames rising costs.

A passage leading from Market Place to Market Place Mews is to be widened with the work scheduled to start next month.

London and Henley Property Group was granted planning permission for the work in 2010, three years after it was granted permission to build 14 new flats above the shops in Market Place Mews.

Claire MacEwan, who owns Revolution, said the wall of her shop would be removed during the work and the floor space would be reduced when it was completed.

She claimed the landlord had said she could stay at the premises but at “a highly inflated rate”, so she closed the shop yesterday (Thursday).

Mrs MacEwan said her four staff wanted to re-open the business at new premises but she was not hopeful.

“They would love to carry on trading and are actively looking for new premises but the rents are pretty high so it deters many smaller independent retailers,” she said.

“There seems to have been a lot of businesses going lately and all that is coming in are the chains. It makes it a really bland town and Henley is losing its identity.” Revolution, which opened in 2009, bought and sold second-hand women’s clothes and accessories.

Mrs MacEwan got the idea from Australia, where she lives most of the time after moving from Shiplake.

She said: “In Australia they are called a consignment dress agency and they’re very popular so I decided to set one up here.

“It has been really successful from day one and we’ve had people come from all over Oxfordshire, London and even Scotland.

“We built up a really good reputation. We changed our stock every day and had a nice range from high street clothes to designer wear — a real mix of things that ladies like.”

Mrs MacEwan added: “Henley will miss the shop. Since we told people we were shutting everyone has said they are sad to see it go.”

Blue Moon, which sold new and second-hand clothes, toys, gifts and feeding equipment for babies, closed on Wednesday last week after about four years of trading.

Store owner Maria del Mar Martinez de Osaba Ranon, of Crisp Road, Henley, plans to continue trading online.

She blamed a combination of falling sales and increasing rent and business rates.

She said: “We can no longer afford to retail in this shop. We are very sad for the decision but unfortunately some landlords in Henley do not understand how hard it is to have a bricks and mortar business in this economic climate.”

Ms Martinez said she was very grateful for the support of her customers over the years. “It has been great to have known nearly all the mums and grannies in Henley and I have made some very good friends,” she said.

“We wish our customers all the best and please support our local independent shops otherwise there will be none left in Henley in a few years.”

A spokesman for London & Henley Property Group said: “The work needed to widen the entrance to Market Place Mews represents the first phase of our development to create 10 new shops and 14 apartments.

“This phase of work, which we anticipate starting next month, will also restore the original features of the façade of 24 Market Place, which is a listed building.

“The entrance will need to be closed for three weeks while the work is undertaken but should the building work dates overlap with the Henley Royal Regatta week then we will ensure that the entrance will be open during that week.

“By undertaking the work in two phases, we can shorten the later main development phase and thereby minimise any potential disruption overall.

“Once completed, the development will enhance the variety and choice offered to shoppers in Henley.

“As well as providing more homes, the development will generate more jobs and rents for the new shops will reflect the market demand at the time they are ready to let.”

To collect unsold items and payments email info@blue moonbabyshop.com

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