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Bradford jewellery shop to shut over 'joke' tax bill
Another iconic city centre retailer is set to close this week.
Fowler & Oldfield jewellers, in Kirkgate, which dates back to 1897, will shut on Thursday night.
Owner Jeff Frankel, who last year invested £30,000 on a makeover of the shop to boost business, is throwing in the towel after being denied a 25 per cent rate reduction which he had enjoyed for five years.
The former chairman of Bradford Retail Action Group, who has traded in the city for 36 years, also owns Sydneys The Jewellers in Rawson Road, which is remaining open. He described the situation as “a joke”.
Following the decision not to maintain the rates concession agreed by HM Revenue & Customs, the bill for Fowler & Oldfield will rise to £9,000 a year.
Mr Frankel, whose property agent has been negotiating with the authorities and won a ruling in his favour, said: “The rate reduction was granted due to the lack of progress on the Westfield development and its impact on city centre trading. The agreement ran until 2010 and I’ve been trying to get it extended.
“But for some reason it has been decided to end the concession and charge me full rates – and this at a time when trade has got worse and there's still no progress on Bradford’s infamous hole in the ground. It’s a joke.
“I’ve been hoping that the money we invested in Fowler & Oldfield last year would encourage more business but things have got worse. We put our faith in Bradford by refurbishing the Fowler & Oldfield store and restocking with quality goods. It’s a sad day for the business and for Bradford, especially as a business founded during the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria is coming to an end just as the present monarch celebrates 60 years on the throne.”
Mr Frankel said Sydneys, which the family has owned since 1947, continued to attract trade due to nearby parking and by focusing on selling affordable second-hand jewellery and buying gold.
Both part-time staff at Fowler & Oldfield had been offered jobs at the other shop and one had accepted.
The closure follows that of the former Fattorini jewellers in Tyrrel Street in March after Goldsmiths pulled the plug on the 160-year-old business. Goldsmiths also shut the former Mappin & Webb store on the junction of Darley Street and Kirkgate last year.