December 6 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 10, 2013
The closure of a popular Suffolk farm shop should “set alarm bells ringing” in towns facing planning bids from major supermarkets chains, a food campaigner has warned.
Partridge’s Farm Shop in Hadleigh High Street, which closed at the weekend, had been trading for 14 years with the majority of produce coming from local farmers.
But shop owner Charles Partridge said the business had seen a dramatic drop in trade since Morrisons opened on the edge of Hadleigh in January, and that he could not afford to keep the business running.
Food campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook said independent outlets such as Partridges were “vital” to the food chain, and she warned the situation in Hadleigh could be replicated up and down the country if our towns are “swamped with new supermarkets”.
Hadleigh is one of several towns across Suffolk that has battled against supermarket applications.
Mr Partridge, 44, whose family have been farming in Layham for more than a century and growing fruit and veg since 1935, said: “Since the arrival of Morrisons in Hadleigh, there has been a vast decrease in trade in the High Street in general and our takings had decreased by a massive amount because there is so little footfall in the town.
“It has been a combination of factors that have conspired to bring us to this point, but the pressure put on by the supermarkets and the increase in internet shopping has taken its toll. It’s a big decision for us because we have been doing this for a long time and we were reluctant to let the local producers down.”
High street shopkeeper Jane Haylock said the closure had affected numerous small producers. She added: “Partridge’s stocked apples from Polstead, cakes from Layham, strawberries from Lindsey, mushrooms and bread from Capel, as well as vegetables and plants from their family farm so the closure has impacted on lots of other small businesses – it’s a great shame.”
Lady Cranbrook said Partridges’ closure should serve as a warning to other towns hoping to retain their independent shops. She said: “I am not totally against supermarkets but every time one opens, independent shops will close and it’s the cumulative impact that does the damage.
“Many of the food producers I interviewed for my surveys that turned out to be major companies all started out supplying small shops like Partridges, and they can only do that if we have small outlets, which are a vital part of the food chain.
“Whenever an independent shop closes, it has a knock on effect in terms of job losses and also on the people who are supplying the shops. The livelihoods of a great many people are seen as collateral damage.
Morrisons spokeswoman Claire Johnson, denied the store was to solely to blame for the downturn in trade in Hadleigh.
She said: “We think there is room for everyone in Hadleigh. Our store has brought jobs and additional choice to the town and we believe the extra footfall generated should benefit everyone.”