Why this supermarket with '£70,000' worth of stock inside has been closed for five months
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:26 16 July 2018
The owner of a Norwich supermarket which has been without electricity for five months says he is losing £15,000 every week.
Abul Hussain was forced to close Desh World Foods Supermarket on Magdalen Street in February after his power was cut off.
The 44-year-old claims he lost £50,000 worth of stock overnight and now has almost £70,000 worth of items gathering dust inside.
Five months on and Mr Hussain’s business at Anglia Square is still without electricity, despite his efforts to get reconnected.
“This has been incredibly stressful for me,” the father-of-three said.
“Every day I am losing money and the creditors are pressuring me now, because I am five months behind on my payments.”
Mr Hussain said part of the problem was due to UK Power Networks being unable to access land behind his supermarket.
UK Power Networks, which is responsible for electricity in the area, confirmed it had been trying to reconnect the business since April.
However, it said it had been unable to secure consent from the landowner.
Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who is helping Mr Hussain, described the situation as “ridiculous”.
He accused the organisations involved of “passing the buck”.
Columbia Threadneedle, meanwhile, which owns the adjoining Anglia Square site, said it was “committed to being a responsible landowner”.
Mr Hussain said his problems started in December 2017 when he attempted to change his electricity provider from National Gas and Power.
He said the company issued him with a £20,000 bill for what it claimed was unpaid electricity.
Mr Hussain disputed the figure and was unable to pay the full amount immediately.
As a result, he said the company came into his supermarket days later and cut off his supply.
He then had to rely on an external generator to keep his business operational over the following weeks.
But in January he claimed he was told by the landowner to remove the generator from the Anglia Square service yard.
With nowhere else to put it, and no other way to power his supermarket, Mr Hussain was forced to close in February.
He has been attempting to get his power reconnected ever since.
“Your third year is where your business is meant to be getting stable,” he said.
“It was my dream to have this store, and I was getting there.
“But this is now slowly killing me.”
He said he was forced to throw away £50,000 worth of frozen and fresh produce.
And every week his business remains closed he claims he is losing an average of £15,000 in sales.
Mr Hussain, who employed 13 people at the supermarket, said he had taken legal advice. Labour MP Mr Lewis is also involved.
A spokesman from Mr Lewis’ office said: “Mr Hussain and I have been overwhelmed with legal and technical jargon and it has been almost impossible to get a straight answer from anyone.
“He has been completely at the mercy of this huge commercial giant and when he asked for help, he was continuously blinded by bureaucracy.
“The result of this has been that his livelihood is threatened.”
Columbia Threadneedle was asked why UK Power Networks was not being allowed onto the site.
But a spokesman for the company, which is behind the redevelopment of Anglia Square, said: “We are working with Desh Supermarkets to resolve a number of outstanding issues to help them get the assistance they require.”
A spokesman for UK Power Networks said: “We have been seeking permission to establish a new connection for the property since April.
“While we have not yet been able to secure consent for the access required from the landowner, we continue to pursue this and remain in contact with all parties to help find a resolution.”
Eric Kirk, chairman of the Magdalen Street Traders Association, said: “We are very sad to see that it [the supermarket] has remained closed because we see it as an attraction to the area. We would encourage the reopening of the site.”
National Gas and Power did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr Hussain opened the supermarket in February 2016 having borrowed £400,000.
His business, which sells foods and kitchen goods from around the world, was previously based in Cowgate from 2010.
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