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Shopkeeper’s anguish as 200-year-old business set to close

PUBLISHED: 05:30 08 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:26 08 January 2020

Ian Berry said Kestrel Bookshop in Sudbury has been forced to close in part due to business rates  Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ian Berry said Kestrel Bookshop in Sudbury has been forced to close in part due to business rates Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Archant

A family business which first opened its doors almost 200 years ago is to close, blaming a variety of problems including a rise in online shopping for its demise.

Mr Berry said the shop has been in the family for around 200 years  Picture: PHIL MORLEYMr Berry said the shop has been in the family for around 200 years Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Kestrel Bookshop in Friars Street, Sudbury, has been open in its current form in 1975 - but has been owned by the Berry family for around 200 years.

The shop, which specialises in books on the south Suffolk and north Essex area written by local authors, will close its doors later this month, saying it has often had to pay high business rates over the years and has struggled with the rise in online shopping.

Owner Ian Berry, who runs the shop with his wife Jo, said he fears for the future of Suffolk's high streets and the livelihoods of local authors who do not receive discounts or relief as a result.

Mr Berry said: "Obviously it is horrible, not just for me - but for Jo, it has hit her so much harder than me.

"She grew up in this shop, it has been a part of her family and it means everything to her.

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"I'm now 81, and unfortunately at our age you just can't fight it anymore. Most of our books you can get online at almost half the price with next day delivery for free.

"But nothing will fill the void in terms of providing local literary works. We have always tried to help local authors while providing a good service to our customers."

Mr Berry has previously raised his concerns on the rateable values of businesses in the town, claiming high street shops pay up to seven times the amount in business rates per square metre than supermarkets based in the outskirts of town.

Mr Berry has said he feels "savage" about the fact many shops have to pay large amounts in business rates.

A spokesman for Babergh District Council confirmed rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency.

They added: "We are committed to supporting economic development across our district, working with businesses to provide a range of services and advice.

"We urge any business experiencing financial difficulties to contact us immediately, so that we can provide support and advice on any available reliefs and reductions and put a suitable payment arrangements can be put in place."

Mr Berry confirmed any leftover stock in the store will be donated to St Nicholas Hospice.


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