The closure of so many small shops throughout West Cork in recent years has been described as ‘nothing short of traumatic.’
Michel Philippot spoke to The Southern Star, this week, to complain about the way in which small businesses are ‘being squeezed on all sides.’
Michel confirmed that after 15 years in business at Market Street, Skibbereen, Rue de Siam – which is owned by him and his partner, Rosaleen O’Shea, and sells crafts, fashion and accessories from Thailand – is to permanently close on January 26th because of the cost of rents, rates, insurance, and the lack of credit facilities from the bank.
Michel came to Ireland 41-years ago for a two-week holiday and never left, having literally torn up his return ticket. He said he loves West Cork but believes trading in small rural towns has become ‘too difficult.’
He told The Southern Star: ‘There are several factors – including the impact on online shopping on small retailers. We did hope that by investing in the E-Street project at Ludgate we would get a boost, but we only had a couple of E-Street orders in 2018.’
Michel said rents in small towns are also a major factor. He said: ‘It seems to me that a lot of people would prefer to have an empty shop rather than help someone to stay in businesses.
‘Rates are also an issue,’ said Michel, who professed himself ‘unhappy with the way the Council treats business people’.
He said: ‘I believe rates are too high and should not be demanded in the manner in which they are being demanded, one year in advance.’
Insurance costs are an added pressure, according to Michel. ‘It, including public liability, must be paid but it is an additional cost burden, especially when so many rural businesses are seasonal.’
Michel said he and Rosaleen are sad to be closing their business. ‘We are sad, too, for the community, because there are so many rural shops closing down – the full effect of which will be felt in the not too distant future.’
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that a popular hair salon in Dunmanway, Studio One, has also ceased trading since the New Year.