September 22 2014 Latest news:
by Tom Marshall
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
An independent stationer says the future of his business is still uncertain despite Sainsbury’s having pulled the plug on plans to take over his shop.
Arvind Mistry’s long-standing store Belsize Stationers was one of four businesses in South End Road, South End Green, that were due to make way for the supermarket giant, before the proposals were suddenly aborted last week.
Thousands had opposed the supermarket – with broadcaster Bill Oddie echoing the view of many when he said it was “not needed, not necessary and not wanted” – and there was jubilation among residents and community campaigners when the scheme was dropped.
But Mr Mistry, 58, who started in the stationary trade aged 19 with a shop in England’s Lane, Belsize Park, said there is still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the parade.
He told the Ham&High: “We don’t know where we stand now.
“We need something exciting here in this part of the parade, because Marks & Spencer [in Pond Street] is pulling all the customers away, they are not spreading up to this side anymore.
“Sainsbury’s or something like that is needed in this end of the parade.”
Mr Mistry, who is operating under a rolling lease and could see his rent increase, has been in South End Road for a quarter of a century – since 1989 – and says the past four years have been the hardest of his career.
He says footfall was hit hard by the opening of Marks & Spencer on the other side of South End Green, and the closure of a post office near his shop.
Over-zealous parking wardens have also helped to drive away custom, he claims.
“There is also the permanent fixture of traffic wardens stopping people coming,” he said.
“There’s not enough customers to pay the rent that the landlord wants. The community is happy, but if the rent goes up, where do I stand?”
Mr Mistry says Camden Council could help by easing the rates burden for independent businesses – but he fears the shop could be forced to close if his fortunes do not improve.