Shop falls victim to TK Maxx
ANGRY shopkeepers say they are being "chucked out" of Cheltenham's Regent Arcade to make way for TK Maxx's expansion.
Independent traders Penny and Steve Burgess, who have run T-shirt printing business Squat Orange for a decade, face eviction by December 3 – just in time to miss out on important Christmas trade.
Their shopfront stands in the path of superstore TK Maxx's plans to enlarge by 30 per cent.
The Burgesses are irate and hurt by the decision made by arcade owners Canada Life.
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"We're a small independent shop and we've no power whatsoever so we're being swept aside," said Mrs Burgess.
"We have no problem with TK Maxx as its doing what a business needs to do – although it would have been nice to have had some compensation for being chucked out. But it's the manner in which Canada Life has done this and the timing – just before our busiest period."
The Burgesses were sent a shock letter by Canada Life's solicitors Lawrence Graham on August 1.
It said, in accordance with their lease, they were being given "not less than three months' notice in writing".
Mrs Burgess said: "I nearly cried, to be honest, and was very angry. We've had no say in this – and there have been no negotiations. We've built up our business over 10 years and managed to survive where all around us have been failing.
"Unsettling rumours have flown around about TK Maxx expanding but the centre denied it until the day we received the letter.
"Earlier this year it started being more concrete when we heard someone measuring up outside and saying 'shame about this shop'."
The Burgesses print designs on everything from T-shirts to fleeces for the public.
They also had to contribute to the 2007/08 arcade refurbishment and the new-look front, through their service charge.
They plan to move into new premises in Winchcombe Street in mid-October, but say a request to waive their last few weeks' rent has been refused.
Canada Life estates director Mike Roberts said: "We refute any suggestion that Squat Orange has been treated unfairly. We have followed standard commercial procedures as laid down under the terms of the lease agreement.
"The required amount of notice was given, and we were not in a position to speak to anyone about the TK Maxx expansion until the legal agreement had been with them. Our priority has to be to our policy holders whose funds are invested with Canada Life.
"We wish Squat Orange every success for the future."