‘Sainsbury’s forced me to shut 70-year-old shop’

Mohammed Hanif hoped to run News Corner in Howe Street until his retirement. Picture: Julie Bull
Mohammed Hanif hoped to run News Corner in Howe Street until his retirement. Picture: Julie Bull
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A CORNER shop which has been in business for more than 70 years will shut for the last time this weekend – driven out by the arrival of a nearby Sainsbury’s, according to the owner.

Mohammed Hanif, 54, has run News Corner in Howe Street for the past 19 years, but said he saw business plummet as soon as the Sainsbury’s Local opened just a few doors away.

He said: “This shop has been here since 1941. Sainsbury’s opened two years ago, just up the road. Within six weeks, the business started going downhill. Since then I have lost 60-70 per cent of my business. It has ruined my career.”

He said he and his wife, Rukhsana, were left with no alternative but to call it a day.

“There is no way we can carry on. We’ve no choice but to close down.”

He will shut the shop for the last time on Friday and go to work for the nearby branch of local convenience chain Margiotta. He said: “I would like to have carried on for another five or ten years – I could have run the shop until my retirement and handed it on as a going business, but now there is no business left.

“The same thing is happening to so many people all over Scotland. So many of the big stores are opening new branches and killing community shops. We need to ask people to support their local community shops if they want them to keep going.”

Gordon Henderson, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said it was a shame Mr Hanif was having to close.

He said: “This is the kind of small independent retailer that is vital to the economy and to the city, to provide something different.

“All the supermarkets are moving away from big boxes on the edge of town to convenience stores in our high streets and the local community feel of the small retailers gets lost.”

City centre Conservative councillor Joanna Mowat also bemoaned the shop shutting. She said: “It’s always sad to see a long-established shop disappear, but this is part of a wider and more complex issue.”

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman defended the retail giant – which has opened a glut of its Local branches in the Capital recently. She said: “Our stores help to draw customers to local shopping centres and they offer good jobs for local people.”

Stores have a “positive impact” on local communities, she added.