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Chocolate shop in Norwich's Royal Arcade closes just two months after opening

PUBLISHED: 16:27 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27 17 June 2019

The chocolate  shop in the Royal Arcade. Pic: Archant

The chocolate shop in the Royal Arcade. Pic: Archant

The owners of a chocolate shop which only opened at Easter has already closed down with the owners saying: "There was no footfall."

A sign on the door says the chocolate shop is now closed. Pic: ArchantA sign on the door says the chocolate shop is now closed. Pic: Archant

The English Chocolate Company is the latest business to close down in the historic arcade. It closed on Saturday after opening to sell loose chocolates and some pre-packed items with further plans to expand into the next door unit selling ice cream, cakes and possibly set up a tearoom.

But David Stott, one of the co directors, told this newspaper: "There was just no footfall, it just wasn't cost effective, the footfall just disappeared, we know there is a demand for chocolates from the success of our other shops such as in Salisbury but it just wasn't for Norwich.

"We were very excited at opening but we just couldn't afford to keep it open."

Another empty shop in the Royal Arcade after the English Chocolate Company closed up at the weekend. Pic: ArchantAnother empty shop in the Royal Arcade after the English Chocolate Company closed up at the weekend. Pic: Archant

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It is the latest blow for the privately owned Royal Arcade, which dates to 1899 and is 247 foot long. It is used to promote Norwich on various tourism websites such as VisitNorwich and its own website describes it as "an oasis of calm, one of Norwich's hidden treasures, packed with classic and independent boutiques. The Arcade is so much more than a landmark, sitting proudly as the Jewel in the Norwich Crown."

The reality is it's losing businesses fast with several empty units. Previous tenants such as Jamie's Italian restaurant, Berry's & Grey interiors and The Bedlinen Co. all closed up citing among other reasons, the high rents. But the owners of the English Chocolate Company said it was lack of customers.

The empty chocolate shop in the Royal Arcade. Pic: ArchantThe empty chocolate shop in the Royal Arcade. Pic: Archant

There were big ambitions for the English Chocolate Company shop when it opened in the former 'Digby's' shop space at the Gentleman's Walk end of the arcade. It was to be a business with a manager and training provided for staff to learn the art of making chocolates. But on Saturday the decision was taken, said the owner, to close up.

It is understood just one member of staff had been taken on despite plans for a manager and two assistants on Saturdays. It was the plan that a kitchen would be put in next door to make chocolates rather than import them from Europe, with most loose chocolates bought from Belgium, France and Holland, but this never happened.

The chocolate shop became renowned when it was 'Digby's' run by Digby Eddison who sold the business and the name in 2013 to start a new chocolate shop called Harald's in Cromer.

The empty chocolate shop with signage removed in the Royal Arcade. Pic: ArchantThe empty chocolate shop with signage removed in the Royal Arcade. Pic: Archant

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The chocolate shop when it was opened by the English Chocolate Company at easter. Pic: ArchantThe chocolate shop when it was opened by the English Chocolate Company at easter. Pic: Archant

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