Published: 12:00, 08 March 2018
A well-known Whitstable butchers is closing permanently today after suffering a fall in trade.
Paul Rook has run Paul's of Whitstable in the high street for five-and-a-half years.
But after a drop in sales, the father-of-four has been forced to close his business forever.
"Over the last few years, the trade has dropped, costs of running are going up, and it's got to the point when the profit isn't enough to continue," said Paul.
"If I keep losing money I'll get in more debt, which isn't fair on other people."
The 49-year-old employed four members of staff at his store.
"It's a real shame," he said. "Our deli manager had been working here for 28 years, so obviously she's upset we're closing, but she can see by the way trade is and how things have got."
Paul was co-director of countywide butchers chain Rooks, with his two cousins, dad, and uncles, until he decided to set up a Whitstable shop on his own.
"It's been getting worse for the last 18 months. The town's been very quiet - businesses that have been here for years have been saying it, too," he said.
Before Christmas, several local stores reported falls in profit as large as 40%.
Many independent shopkeepers have connected last year's arrival of Prospect Retail Park - featuring large large chain stores such as Aldi and Home Bargains - with the notable slump in trade.
"New stores out of town aren't going to help businesses in the town," said Paul.
He added that he hopes to continue living in Whitstable, and will now look for a new job in the surrounding area.
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