Another long established Thornton Heath business has bitten the dust. Sadly, Doris Florist closed its doors for the last time on Friday after 25 years in its station premises
Customers were devastated to hear the news of the closure of the florists which has been a staple of Thornton Heath life for over two decades.
The owner Mike Hynan revealed in the November edition of The Chronicle that the florists had lost £30,000 in sales directly as a result of disruption caused by the public realm works in February 2018 which hit key trading dates including Valentines and Mother’s Day.
This coupled with increased business rates, threatened rent hikes from Network Rail, dwindling sales and the demise of of Ambassador House meant the death knell for the florists.
Helen Costi who has worked for Doris Florist for 20 years – 12 of which at the Thornton Heath branch said: “ I will miss the people but not the place. It’s so sad what has happened to Thornton Heath. It has become a dumping ground for all the down and outs.”
The shopfront display at Doris Florist is key to attracting customers but was obscured by a metal fencing for months, placed there by contractors working on new paving – and so some customers thought the florist was closed.
Mike said: “Trade was half the previous years and the wastage was devastatingly high.”
The branch hadn’t been able to recoup the loss. The council were slow to react and while councillors claim they had been working with the owner to get compensation it seems to have been too little too late.
Helen whose family lived on Green Lane for 30 years said she had seen a lot of changes to Thornton Heath and Norbury and recalled when she started at the branch there was competition from five florists in Thornton Heath.
She recalls the heyday when Ambassador House was a bustling office block. Competition from on-line and the ability of supermarkets like Tesco to undercut small florists by doing deals with growers, makes it even more difficult for small businesses to survive.
She added: “If the council had got Ambassador House up and running again it may have made a difference as it generated business. It is difficult for small businesses to survive when the overheads are so high and custom dwindling.”
In the last three years established businesses: Thomas Farley, HSBC, Barclays, Flora Sandes, Wimpy, Morley’s
and Parthenon Fashions have all closed.
The council’s regeneration of the High Street included business support packages but it appears none, if any of the businesses above, which have closed were offered assistance.
Thornton Heath was named the third worst High Street in London which was attributed to the number of empty shops. While many significant Thornton Heath shops have closed others have opened with the biggest increase in hairdressers and nail bars which supports evidence that shoppers only use the High Street these days for items they can’t get on line or buy cheap.