Caley's / Caleys Cocoa Cafe on White Lion Street, Norwich.

High rents and rates are blamed for closure of Caleys Cocoa Cafe in White Lion Street

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
6.30 AM

Bosses of the Caleys Cocoa Café said they were focusing on their main outlet in the Guildhall after taking the decision to close their White Lion Street store.

Director Roger King said doors shut at White Lion Street for the last time on Saturday with the loss of two jobs.

He said high business rates and rents in the city centre finally put paid to the venture, which had opened in 2010 because despite a huge number of people walking past the shop, it had never managed to turn a profit.

“We have been there for two-and-a-half years and we have never made any money throughout that whole period,” Mr King said. “It was down to the rents and the rates, which are astronomically high in that area. The closure comes less than a month after the Union Yard tea and coffee shop on the corner of St Stephens Street and Surrey Street closed its doors, with owner Steven Winter blaming rent and business rate rises for the decision.

Mr King urged the city council and landlords to take action to help businesses during the current economic climate, otherwise there could be more empty shops.

“We tried to negotiate with the landlords and the rating office, but neither of them were prepared to move,” he added. “We were losing money and we decided it was crazy to carry on with it. I know of several businesses who say the rents and rates are too high. People need to live in the real world because for a lot of businesses it’s just not something you can sustain.

“The rates in that area are about £20,000 a year. When we first looked at it we thought that because the footfall was incredible we would be able to live with it.

“But when you add the rent on top of that, you’ve got to sell an awful lot of teas and coffees before you start to break even.

“It’s a shame, but we are passionate about Caleys.” And he stressed the decision would have no impact on the main branch in the Guildhall, and Caleys was also introducing a table waitressing service.

“We are fully committed to that,” he said. “We are passionate about Caleys and want to keep it going and we are talking to the council about renewing our lease.”

Are rates and rents hurting your business? Contact Shaun Lowthorpe on 01603 772471 or email shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk