Roadworks partly to blame as Plymouth surf shop forced to close after 35 years
THE boss of a popular surf shop has blamed a combination of major roadworks, high rent, poor weather and a drop in footfall for destroying his business.
Frank Sobey, co-founder of Harbour Sports, was speaking as the company entered voluntary liquidation – after 35 years in business.
He told The Herald the business had been "cut to pieces" by Barbican roadworks which took place during of last year's summer.
At the time Mr Sobey said the Wales and West Utilities works had been "catastrophic" for custom.
BUY ONE GET ONE FREE - Medium Cod, Chips & Mushy Peas at...View details
Simply Purchase a Medium Cod, Chips and Mushy Peas and receive another portion for FREE.
Sustainable Cod, Fresh Cut Chips & Proper Mushy Peas.
Visit Our Website for more information and offers
Terms: Offer valid only with this Voucher, 1 voucher Per Customer. Not for use with any other offer, Not transferable to other menu items
Contact: 01752 421044
Valid until: Thursday, June 27 2013
The major works began in April 2011 and lasted well into the summer months. Sutton Road was closed and temporary lights took over Notte Street as the £1.3million gas replacement project got under way.
Mr Sobey said the store had submitted a £15,000 compensation claim which never came to fruition.
"Last summer we were cut to pieces with the road works," he explained.
"Footfall figures have changed and when people find a new route they stick to it."
The company has also been forced to close its Exeter and Paignton stores, though it is understood there are plans for a new venture at the Paignton base.
Five staff were on the books at the Barbican shop: two full time and three part time.
Mr Sobey added: "It's just one of those things really. As far as Plymouth is concerned it was just too expensive to be there.
"We were coming to the end of our lease and the landlord wouldn't shift on the rent.
"This last summer has been the wettest, cloudiest and soggiest in years, which when you sell shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops and sun hats it doesn't make a good combination."
Harbour Sports has been a family-run business for the past 35 years.
It was founded in the 1970s by Julian Smith and Mr Sobey, together with their wives Sue and Lyndy.
As well as retailing watersports clothing and equipment it ran a popular windsurfing school for 20 years.
The creation of Drake Circus was also a factor Mr Sobey believed played a part in closing the Plymouth branch.
"You saw what happened in New George Street when the new shopping centre arrived," he added.
The co-founder paid tribute to the many staff who had worked for the business over the years and the thousands of loyal customers.
He added: "We've had some really nice comments from people all over the world."
A spokesman for Wales and West Utilities, said: "From the time we started on our essential gas work on the Barbican we made it clear that we were happy to help individual businesses through our compensation procedure, in the event that they may have suffered financial loss as a result. This is our standard practice.
"The information that we ask businesses to provide is not complicated and claims were dealt with quickly and efficiently with full liaison by our experienced advisers. We are retrieving the details of the claim made by the individual in question and will provide a full response in due course."