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Entrepreneur ‘close to giving up on dream’

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AN Islander who is trying to set up a retail business says she is coming closer to giving up on her dream after being priced out of the industry by high rental costs.

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Michelle Le Mercier says that she has inquired about a number of vacant properties in St Helier but has not yet found an affordable property.

She has expressed her frustration after town centre manager Daphne East said that the number of empty shops in St Helier had probably reached their highest number since the recession of 2008.

‘I have been trying for months and months to find somewhere, but everywhere is out of my price range.

‘I used to work for a jewellers in Halkett Street called Jersey Zilver, opposite the old Austin Reed store, and the landlords wanted us to take on a nine-year continual lease. But the footfall had gone right down and we had to close.

‘I have found one right at the top of Colomberie for £22,500, but the footfall is not there either. For a business starting up in Jersey it is just too high risk.’

Miss Le Mercier added that she had also looked at higher-footfall premises on King Street, but found that rental agreements were too risky and expensive for any small local retailers to take on.

‘If you are not on the high street you do not get the footfall and do not make any money, but if you are, then the rent is really high – you just cannot win,’ she said.

‘This is why people go online and high street shops have to incorporate the price of rent into their costs. Unless there is a rent cap it will just get worse.’

The Islander added that she had tried to enter into negotiations to rent a store that had been empty for nearly a year, but never received a response.

‘I really want to set up my own business and it is something that I am really passionate about, but it is a constant battle. I think I might just give up soon,’ she said.

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