Business closures ‘grim news’ for Richmond, says association chair

York House in Richmond. Photo: Georgie Swift.

The announcements that four businesses in the Richmond area have closed or will close this year is “grim news” for the town, according to the chair of Original Richmond Business and Tourism Association (ORBTA).

Paul Harrison spoke out after the owners of the Cross View Tea Rooms, The Fleece, and Ravensworth Nurseries announced they had shut with immediate effect, with York House gift shop to close at the end of the year.

Paul said: “This is very grim news for Richmond. Cross View, Ravensworth and York House have been active ORBTA members, and have contributed much over the years, for which we are very grateful.

“I want to express our sadness that we will lose them not only from ORBTA, but also our local business community.

“They have been key players in the town, in the case of York House for 26 years, and Ravensworth an astonishing 57 years. Let’s not forget the key role that Ravensworth has played in the town’s floral displays.

“The loss of these businesses will literally change the face of Richmond.”

The chair said there were common strands for the reasons given for the closures.

“Never before have businesses faced such challenging trading times. Even though there was support through furlough and premises grants during Covid, it did not compensate for the enforced closure and loss of revenue.

“This has been followed by big increases in the national and living wages, leading to increased staffing costs, and of course massive hikes in energy costs, all of which have significantly increased the running costs for businesses.

“High energy users have been disproportionately affected.

“If there had been an increase in demand, it would have offset these costs, but the cost of living crisis and anxiety about mortgages has done the opposite. People are either not spending money or being far more selective in how they spend, and this has led to big reductions in revenue.”

Paul added: “Richmond residents are generally very supportive of local businesses, but there is simply not the money around.”

The chairman said ORBTA members would continue to offer each other mutual support and be an advocate for Richmond as a place to do business.

“There is much to do to get those in power to understand the struggles that we face, but by working together we can hopefully address the challenges as best we can.

“Sadly the current situation is not likely to change soon. I hope that we can all come through it and see Richmond prosper once more.”