An Aylesbury coffee shop has closed its doors claiming high business rates as the reason.
Gia Coffee in Market Square closed and a sign which appeared in the window read: “Unfortunately due to exceptionally high business rates we are left with no option but to close down.”
But Aylesbury town centre manager Diana Fawcett said the business rates had not altered since Gia Coffee moved into the unit in February.
She said: “I’m disappointed that the shop had not come up with a business plan that would take into account the cost of business rates.
“Any shop has a responsibility to investigate the ongoing rates so they can make that business viable.”
The district council recently announced plans to improve Aylesbury with high end restaurants and shops.
After reading the town centre manager’s comments, the director of Gia Coffee, George Socratous, wrote to The Bucks Herald and said: “We obviously had taken the high business rates into our business plan and had studied the great footfall for many months.
“Unfortunately, the shop did not take as much as we predicted. Now this is not the fault of the council, but I think people should know that when the lease of the shop was signed in Devember 2012, within a few days the council had sent a letter demanding rates upfront from the December 4 until March 31.
“That’s four months worth of business rates upfront. That worked out to over £5,000 worth of rates demanded before the shop opened, obviously this is such a great strain on a small business, how can any new business expect to pay four months rates upfront?
“The council like to make out they want to help small businesses, they clearly do not help.
“To my shock and disgust, a lady from the council denied they had demanded four months rates upfront. People should know this information.
“Gia coffee would like to thank the great people of Aylesbury for your support.”