Dealers at Dorking Great Grooms, which was until last week owned by Surrey centres entrepreneur James Podger, have been under notice and it is understood they will cease trading at the end of this month.
The new owners of the Talbot Walk Antiques Centre in Ripley, Merchant Inns plc, wish to take the premises back for redevelopment and are expected to use them as a banqueting and conference facility. Graham Jones, the manager of Talbot Walk since it opened in July 1999, said: “Again, it is a simple case of economics that is marginalising so many antiques centres and forcing them to eventually close down.”
Now Mr Jones has clinched a deal with James Podger and secured the lease of his Dorking building. It has been known for some time that Mr Podger wanted to dispose of his Dorking venture.
The new centre will begin trading in July as Talbot House Antiques Centre and Mr Jones emphasised that he is moving in with full vacant possession, he is not taking over any existing business.
Mr Jones said that many dealers would move with them, but they would welcome enquiries from London dealers who may have become displaced, as well as dealers from Surrey.
One major change Graham Jones will instigate is what he describes as a radical departure from the majority of West Street. “We will open on Sundays and hope to encourage, and cajole, other antique shops in the street to do likewise,” he says.
Mr Podger told ATG: “My wife Susie and I are going to work out of Hungerford. I will concentrate on Hungerford and it is going to go further and further upmarket.”
By David Moss