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Poyners battles to stay open as recession bites
8:00am Friday 2nd November 2012 in News
AN ICONIC Ludlow business is fighting for survival.
Women’s and baby retail outlet, Poyners in Broad Street, says that it is being crippled by massive business rates and that the next few months will be crucial.
A drapers shop has traded from the premises for nearly 150 years and it has been in the Poyner family since 1917.
“We are one of the oldest shops in Ludlow but are facing our biggest challenge,” said Margaret Edwards, who runs the shop jointly with Jean Parker.
The two women have worked for the business for a combined total of half a century and say things have never been as tough.
“Like many businesses we have suffered in the economic downturn but this is not the real problem because sales have held up quite well,” said Jean Parker.
But Poyners were dealt a body blow in 2010 when the shop’s monthly business rate increased from £500 to £900.
“At a time when the recession was really kicking in and takings were in decline our rates bill has nearly doubled,” said Margaret.
“Our rates bill is by far the biggest outgoing that the business has and it is a massive burden.”
"To make matters worse the increase in the rateable value took us over the magic figure of £19,000 which means that we are not eligible for some of the rebates and help available to other businesses."
As a result it has not been possible to pay all the rates that have fallen due and a backlog of debt has built up.
“It is manageable and we have been in talks with Shropshire Council and for the time being Poyners has managed to stave off any threat of bailiffs being sent in,” said Margaret Edwards.
The business does not blame Shropshire Council as the business rate is set by central government.
Ludlow MP Philip Dunne has been contacted but they say that while he is sympathetic there is nothing he can do although he has indicated that the situation may be eased when there is another revaluation in 2015.
“This will be no use because unless there is help in the short term there will not be a long term to worry about,”
said Jean Parker.
Mr Dunne added: “Poyners is one of the traditional shops which helps to make Ludlow such a distinctive place to shop. I am keen to ensure it is not paying more business rates than it should, but ultimately, as with any retail business, it needs to maintain an attractive product offer as its customer base changes.”
Town councillors Graeme Perks and Jim Newbold are trying to help the business.
“It would be a tragedy if Poyners were to disappear because this is a shop that helps to make Ludlow so special and the town would suffer if places like this, that provide character and make us different, were not here,”
said Coun Perks.
“There are other businesses suffering from the high business rate but Poyners is especially badly hit because they have a long frontage in a prime part of town and this is the reason why the rates are so high.
“This is basically a sound business that can pay its way but for this unfair business rate. If it disappears it will not be coming back.
“I urge people to shop here and see just what is available on the doorstep. This shop provides old style personal service and has customers as far away as Australia and the Far East.”
Every year Poyners sends hundreds of boxes of presents to children in poor countries.
Now it needs a Christmas present that will secure the future of a business that has been part of the life of Ludlow for longer than anyone can remember.