Trader says West End of Plymouth is dying, as he shuts up shop
PLYMOUTH'S specialist beer shop is to close, with its owner blaming the stagnant economy and a lack of help for traders from the council and landlords.
Dave Moor said his Moor and More Beer emporium, in Frankfort Gate, had suffered from a lack of shoppers in the West End of the city centre.
He said: "Business has been so bad these past three months I can't keep pumping money in or I'll go bankrupt.
"There is no point staying down here – this is dying on its feet."
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He blames the recession-hit economy and the pull of Drake Circus mall – and said the £3.2million revamp of the city centre's West End had done nothing to encourage footfall and even left businesses out of pocket.
He said struggling traders have not been offered help on rents or business rates during the economic downturn.
Mr Moor will now shut on May 24, almost five years after he opened.
"Footfall has fallen drastically," he said. "The main reason is Drake Circus, which has split the city centre in two.
"And the refurbishment has not worked," he said, adding that while the eight-month works programme was under way in 2009 it "put people off coming to this end" – and many never returned.
"We lost 10 per cent of footfall because it was closed so long," he said. "A lot of people never came back down this end."
He said no compensation was paid by Plymouth City Council, even though the regeneration works left him thousands of pounds out of pocket due to lost trade.
Moor and More Beer became famous for selling an impressive range of 1,417 different bottled West Country real ales, ciders and foreign beers and lagers.
The business was widely acclaimed and even features as one of the city's "great independent shops" on the city's 2012 Visitor Guide.
But despite having its "best Christmas ever", the business has struggled since 2010, and in February trade was 24 per cent down year-on-year, it was 32 per cent down in March and 40 per cent down this month.
"Last week we were 64 per cent down," Mr Moor said.
"I'm very disappointed. I put a considerable amount of money into this, and other people have as well.
"I realise there is a recession on and it's difficult for everybody, but it grates when I see the council has chosen us for their tourist guide and think we're something special but do nothing to help."
An ex-senior project manager, Mr Moor does not know if he can return to his old job, but has not given up hope of reopening next year, although he said "that depends on things".
But he said loyal customers have been "amazing" and added: "I have been inundated with messages, I'm touched."
Ray Robins, chairman of the Market Traders' Association and Cornwall Street Shopkeepers Association, said the whole city centre had suffered from the effects of the recession, internet and out-of-town trading.
But he said there were few empty shops in the West End.
"Certain types of businesses are going to suffer more than others," he said. "Dave needs a lot of footfall for his business to survive."
He said traders had wanted the West End regeneration scheme to deliver more parking spaces around Cornwall Street and Frankfort Gate, but he praised some council initiatives and said: "The council has always been responsive."
However, he said more could be done on rents, adding: "Independent landlords have to realise that retail units are not a cash cow – they have to be realistic when it comes to rents."
A Plymouth City Centre Company spokesperson said it was doing everything it could to support retailers.
He stressed figures in 2011 showed footfall in the West End had increased by 16 per cent since 2009.
And he added: "We all need to shop local, shop Plymouth and keep independents in our city centre."
A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said "significant improvements" in the West End had helped attract shoppers.
"It is always incredibly sad to see shops close, especially when financial help in the form of Business Rate Relief is available to them," he said.
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