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Retail industry ‘too difficult’ for new businesses to enter

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THE managing director of one of Jersey’s oldest shops has said he doubts he would start up in retail these days because the climate is so difficult.

Jeffrey Chinn, managing director of Hettich Jewellers on King Street

Jeffrey Chinn, who runs Hettich Jewellers in King Street, said that his business had ‘done okay’ so far this year but agreed that it was tougher than ever for entrepreneurs to set up a small shop.

‘I think it’s really difficult. Maybe if you are a one-man band and willing to work all hours every day you can do it,’ he said.

‘The problems come when you need to recruit people. There’s a shortage of the right staff in Jersey. And operating costs are high, rental costs are high. I don’t think people realise how difficult it is in retail.

‘We have been doing it for a long time so we know what we are doing but I don’t know whether I would want to start up in the current climate.’

Earlier this week, during a trip to the Island, Gary Grant, the founder and chief executive of the Entertainer Group, said that shops were facing their worst quarter since the recession of 2008 and needed more support from the government.

He said that consumer confidence had been rocked by Brexit and the demise of Thomas Cook, making life even tougher for the high street which has suffered greatly as online shopping has become increasingly dominant.

The government is currently working on a retail strategy for Jersey in a bid to help the struggling high street.

But Mr Chinn said that anyone hoping to make it in retail should not expect to rely on government support to do so.

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‘The government has never done anything to help the retail sector. It was the retail and commercial sector which had to charge GST when it was introduced and that made our prices higher,’ he said.

‘I think that getting rid of the de minimis limit [charging GST on all online goods] would help and will happen eventually.

‘But I have seen so many of these reports like the retail strategy down the years and none of them have achieved anything. To be fair, this one does seem more promising so we may see more delivered this time.’

He added: ‘Really if you want to start in retail you need to do it without expecting a leg-up or back-up from the government because you are not going to get it.

‘And ultimately it is online retail that is killing the high street. That’s what shops are up against – the incredible choice, services and resources that people like Amazon have to offer.

‘At the end of the day, if a consumer can shop on their laptop rather than going into a shop, they are usually going to choose that convenience.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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