Another blow as Handyman Centre shuts up shop

The Handyman Centre
The Handyman Centre

Kenilworth’s town centre has taken another hit just before Christmas as owners of the Handyman Centre say they have no choice but to pack up after over 30 years trading.

The family run business is Kenilworth’s last surviving independent hardware shop and was once one of eight businesses of its kind thriving in the town.

Jennifer Higgins, who took over the centre with her husband Maurice 32 years ago, said with competition from Wilkinsons and Robert Dyas as well as the biting recession, they simply cannot go on.

And all on top of “crippling” rents and rates which set retailers back thousands of pounds “before they start thinking about stock”.

“We’ve been here 32 years in February, but we cannot go on any longer,” said Jennifer.

“We have had some fantastic support and lots of people saying they will be sorry to see us go. But sadly that won’t pay the bills. We had to contend with a triple whammy where most have just had the recession.”

The shop, now run by the couple’s son Sean, has been listed for sale for around three years but has failed to attract a buyer.

It will close its doors as early as the end of this month, with the family thanking customers for keeping them going for the past three decades.

Falling sales over the past two years have been put down to the opening of the chain stores and decline in shoppers. “A lot of people say they don’t bother coming up to Abbey End as there is nothing here,” said Jennifer.

“Market day used to make a big difference, but not any more. You just don’t get people out and about.

“It is sad but if you look behind the doors of many shops things aren’t much different.”

Currently there are around eight town businesses listed for sale, including Kenilworth Books in what has been described as “very unusual” for a town at any time.

This year the town has lost Crash Bang Wallop, Camerama, Farmers Fayre and Paul’s Hair Studio. Becks Butchers moved to Leamington, and national retailers Co-op Electrix, Co-op and Blockbuster Video all ceased trading.