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Headington traders ordered to quit as big-name grocers eye sites
TWO shops in London Road have been served with eviction notices just months after a string of supermarket chains revealed interest in the area. Independently-run Oxford Furniture Warehouse said it was worried about its future after being given just three months to move out.
The store moved to London Road in April after its original premises was repeatedly ruined by flooding.
Neighbouring shop, sports clothing retailer Up and Running, has also been told it must leave. The shop, which has organised training dates for the upcoming Oxford Half Marathon, refused to comment on the eviction notice.
Oxfam, which occupies the same building area, said it is tied to a different lease and has not been served with any notice.
In June the Oxford Mail revealed that Sainsbury’s and Tesco had both confirmed interests in separate sites in London Road.
Tesco has repeatedly refused to comment on where it intends to move in to, but Sainsbury’s said it has plans for 98 London Road, currently occupied by Peacocks.
Morrisons has also announced plans for a store on the site of the former Blockbuster shop in the road.
The area already has Waitrose and Co-operative stores.
Oxford Furniture Warehouse owner Sam Green, 25, who runs the store with her mother Chris, said business had improved after they moved from Abingdon Road to Headington in April.
Two storage buildings at the Abingdon Road premises were flooded in November and again the following month, costing £6,000 in lost trade.
But she said just as they were turning a corner they have been hit with another blow.
Ms Green said: “We had the lease until 2015, and things were really starting to pick up.
“It’s an absolute bombshell as we are really settled here. We’ve got three months to find somewhere else and I have no idea what we’re going to do.”
Support for the Furniture Warehouse has poured in via Facebook and Twitter.
Headington councillor Ruth Wilkinson said: “I know Tesco is interested in the area. It’s a shame because I have spoken to the owners of the Furniture Warehouse and it seemed that they were making a good go of it.
“There is also the worry of somebody coming in causing parking problems. “We’ve been conducting resident surveys of what we want to see more of in Headington, people want shoe shops, bookshops, the kind of independent shops that will retain Headington’s identity.
“We don’t want Headington to look like any other place.”
The landlords of 83, 83a and 85 London Road are listed as Iain Bond, of Hammersmith, and Lady Catherine Stewart, of Chiswick.
Both were unavailable for comment last night. The property, which measures 1431 square foot, with a £12,000 a year rent is listed as under offer by agent VSL.
VSL refused to comment on the evictions or claims that a major supermarket was planning to move in and Tesco also refused to comment. s Supermarket invasions: Special report pages 8 & 9
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