Saturday, 23 October 2021

Shop closes after 13 years in Henley

A FLORIST’S shop in Henley closes today (Friday) after 13 years

A FLORIST’S shop in Henley closes today (Friday) after 13 years.

Stemtation in Market Place Mews will now sell flowers only online as the owners say footfall has fallen and the future of their rented premises is uncertain.

Kathryn Hammant, 41, from Sonning Common, and her business partner Eric Miche, 42, from Reading, said they had to take action as they believed the area was about to be redeveloped.

Last year, the mews was put on the market after the DeStefano Property Group, the parent company of London and Henley Properties, went into administration.

It was bought by asset managers Catalyst Capital as part of a £55 million deal for 19 former DeStefano properties across the South. The previous owner had planning permission to redevelop the mews into 14 flats and 16,000 sq ft of retail space.

Mrs Hammant said she believed redevelopment of the site was imminent.

“We have had people coming in doing a lot of surveys and inspections. These are all signs that something is in the pipeline,” she said.

“At the end of the day the mews needs something doing to it. It doesn't look like it did when we came in — we have got an empty unit next door.”

Mrs Hammant said the pair had observed a drop in footfall and blamed it on insufficient parking, traffic queues on Remenham Hill and people choosing to shop online.

They didn’t believe it was worth paying rent on another shop when they had a business that was already expensive to run.

“It wouldn’t be cost effective,” she said. “Henley is not what it used to be and seeing so many people leaving, so many shops empty, doesn’t give you confidence.”

Mrs Hammant said the business would remain in Henley and they would offer consultancy as well as selling online.

Stemtation first opened in Market Place Mews in 2003 but in 2008 moved to Toad Hall garden centre because planning permission had been granted to demolish and redevelop Market Place Mews.

After that redevelopment, the business returned to the original unit in August 2011.

In a statement, the owners thanked their friends and customers.

They said: “Because of you, we have had more than 12 successful years here in Henley and we are looking forward to many, many more, but the future of our premises has been unsure for a while.

“Recent changes of ownership and the threat of redevelopment of Market Place Mews have led us to take the decision to relocate. We have done this before so this time it should be a breeze!

“Christmas 2015 was our busiest and most successful one to date and now that we have recovered we will continue our search for new premises, which will be mainly used for consultations.

“We have enjoyed working with all of you and appreciate your support over the last decade and more and we hope that you will continue to support us in the future.

“We know what we want, we know what we are capable of and we also know our customers and for that reason we know the next step is not a business risk, it's a new phase in what has been a fantastic journey so far for Stemtation.

“We are excited to see what 2016 has in store and remember, we are changing, not closing.”

Two weeks ago the Henley Standard reported that gift and art shop St Audrey’s in Duke Street would close this summer with the owners blaming the growth of online sales. Skate shop Yeuk in Friday Street closed last month.

Meanwhile, the Cargo store in Market Place will close at the end of next week before re-opening as a Bensons for Beds outlet. The two brands are owned by Steinhoff UK.

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