Businessman's warning for town's future

AN independent retailer who is to close his craft store after more than 50 years of trading has warned a planned multi-million pound shopping development has left other small businesses facing an uncertain future.

AN independent retailer who is to close his craft store after more than 50 years of trading has warned a planned multi-million pound shopping development has left other small businesses facing an uncertain future.

Alan Jary announced yesterday he is to shut his gift store Jaycraft in Bury St Edmunds' prestigious St John's Street - adding he had “grave concerns” for the future of the historic town centre while building work on the controversial Cattle Market project takes place.

The 61-year-old, who will retire after working in retail since 1955, said the development, which will boast 35 new shops, a Debenhams department store, public building and residential flats, had left traders facing “tremendous uncertainty”.

However, masterminds behind the £100million scheme, on which work is due to begin later this year, say they remain “absolutely confident” the project will have a positive impact on Bury, attracting more shoppers to both the new stores and existing town centre.


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But Mr Jary, who will close his shop at the end of April, eight months after fellow St John's Street independent outlet Carpet Bags shut its doors, said no-one could predict the long-term effects of the project.

“I have concerns and reservations over the planned development, and to a certain extent it has made me ask myself if I want to carry on trading through all the upheaval,” said Mr Jary, who employs eight part-time staff. There is tremendous uncertainty at the moment.

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“None of us know the long-term effect, but in the short term, I believe this will have a serious effect on trade.

“I do not like what is happening with the Cattle Market and I think more should be done to make Bury the best market town in England by promoting the strengths it has rather than copying the bigger cities.

“But the internet has also altered the face of retailing, as has the growth of supermarkets. If we put all these things together, they have an affect on business.”

Helen Persighetti who closed her furnishing shop Campbell and Brown, in St John's Street on Saturday , echoed Mr Jary's views, saying: “My reasons for closing is because I'm moving on to other things but I along with other traders have concerns about the Cattle Market.

“There are lots of threats to independent traders and the Cattle Market is just another one.”

However Steve Bryson, spokesman for developers Centros Miller, said: “We are absolutely confident that the development will have a positive impact on Bury St Edmunds.

“There will actually be more shoppers in the town, and typically independent local retailers will actually benefit from the development rather than losing out to it.”

A spokesman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which is masterminding the project, said the development would “undoubtedly” bring more custom into the town.

“The borough council has put a tremendous amount of effort into supporting traders in St John's Street to make it one of the most successful trading areas in the town,” she said.

“It is a busy shopping street and we are confident that will continue when the Cattle Market is built, and that the development will undoubtedly bring more people into the town, benefiting other traders, and particularly independent traders.”

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