Trader loses shop on the eve of Christmas

5/12/14- Kristina Judge and Angelina Wileman from Bexhill Toy Shop- forced to move their business to make way for Wetherspoons. SUS-140512-180835001
5/12/14- Kristina Judge and Angelina Wileman from Bexhill Toy Shop- forced to move their business to make way for Wetherspoons. SUS-140512-180835001

A Western Road shopkeeper was “shocked” to be told to vacate just weeks before Christmas - the busiest time of her year.

Kristine Judge, who ran the Bexhill Toy Shop at 36b, feared she would be a victim of the J.D Wetherspoon move to Bexhill and lose out on festive trade.

The pub giant has purchased the former cinema and Bexhill Toy Shop situated next door.

Kristine claimed she received a letter in November telling her to go by the end of the month.

But there are conflicting reports on who actually wanted the businesswoman out.

Kristine said: “This is the time we are preparing for the whole year. For them to ask us to leave with no place to go was very scary.

“I thought I would have to pack up and start looking for storage. But we expect December to be our busiest time and spent this year building up our customer base.”

The shopfront will be boarded up until redevelopment work starts next year.

Kristine said: “Is this a sign of a lack of interest in local traders and the Christmas ambience in Western Road?”

However “against all odds” new premises in the Regency arcade in Devonshire Road were found and she moved in at the weekend to get ready for Christmas shoppers.

But Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon denied the pub chain wanted Kristine out.

He said: “ It is important to note that JD Wetherspoon has nothing whatsoever to do with the closing of the toy shop.

“The vendor handed over the site to Wetherspoon with vacant possession.”

The Ormiston Trust however said that Wetherspoon stipulated the property was sold with vacant possession so there was “no choice but to serve notice on Mrs Judge.”

The Trust is claiming it “took significant steps to minimise impact on Mrs Judge” who had a short term flexible tenancy at a concessionary rent which was intended to mitigate the trust against the cost of empty rates.

The Trust said it asked Wetherspoon whether it could keep Kristine as a tenant until after Christmas, and commented: “Unfortunately, Wetherspoons ultimately advised that they could not, and still required vacant possession. At the same time the Trust, via Maltbys, tried to ensure that if Mrs Judge was to be required to vacate she would have somewhere to go to ensure she could still trade up to Christmas. After considerable efforts Maltbys were able to do this by finding her, not only a shop into which to move on a temporary basis, and a shop to move to longer term early next year, but even helped her move her stock over the weekend prior to the sale completing.”