Published: 00:01, 13 November 2017
A luxury shoe firm has had the shine taken off its new shop in the city – after being threatened with fines by council enforcement officers.
Loake Shoemakers in the Buttermarket is having a run-in with officials over a vintage-style “delivery” bike it parks in the city centre to advertise the store.
Managers say the £2,000 handmade English Pashley machine, complete with wicker basket, fits in well with the historic city and gets many complimentary comments.
It was initially chained to a post in the High Street in a bid to direct potential customers down to the Buttermarket, and later moved to a bike rack in St Margaret’s Street following complaints.
But council officers say it remains an obstruction and has ordered the shop to remove it or face a fine for fly-posting.
The store’s head of business, Mark Pegg, says he is stunned and disappointed by the threat.
“We are a luxury brand who have chosen to invest in Canterbury and, quite frankly, in the local climate of retail uncertainty and unemployment, I find their attitude astonishing,” he said.
“I feel the attitude to our fledgling business here in the city is simply unnecessary and damaging.”
The shop is owned by Brogue Traders which, working in partnership with Loake, has seven outlets, largely in historic cities where their handmade shoes sell for between £150 and £300.
Mr Pegg says that since the bike was removed from the High Street, the shop has experienced a 20% drop in trade.
He said: “To succeed where we are, we must be able to direct footfall from the busy High Street. The city council is not supporting our business and is, in fact, making it more difficult to trade.”
Mr Pegg, council officials and representatives of the Canterbury Business Improvement District were due to meet to discuss the issue.
“I hope we can come to a compromise and I have told them we are quite prepared to pay for a permit,” he said.
Council spokesman Rob Davies said: “We have had a concern about the vintage bike used by Loake to promote their business, which has been blocking the pavement and causing an obstruction.
“Advice has been provided to them about contacting Kent County Council to secure permission for activity over and above that allowed for in the voluntary code and we remain in discussion with Loake to find a way to resolve the issue.
“The shop is in no way being singled out and we understand the importance of advertising. However, we do have to be fair to all businesses, particularly when so many are embracing the guidelines set out in the code.”
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