Dealer is to leave Petworth for Chichester after rent increases

Richard Gardner whose antique shop is closing down. ''C120069-1 Mid Pet Antiques  Photo Louise Adams

Richard Gardner whose antique shop is closing down. ''C120069-1 Mid Pet Antiques Photo Louise Adams

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One of Petworth’s longest-established antique dealers, and one of the newest, are giving up their town showrooms and relocating to premises elsewhere.

Richard Gardner, whose large premises spread from Market Square into Saddlers Row, is moving his business to Chichester after 18 years in Petworth.

And Daniel Edmonds is giving up his prominent showroom site at the southern entrance to the town, after three years, in favour of a unit at a business park at Crawfolds Farm, Balls Cross.

They are the latest in a number of art and antique businesses to be lost to the town in recent years.

And both have cited the outgoings in rent and business rates among the reasons for their decision.

Mr Edmonds said he also needed a bigger outdoor area to display the large garden items he sold: “I have had three pretty good years in Petworth.

“I have now got a good client base and got myself on the map.”

Mr Gardner said: “Our landlord wanted an increase in rent and we wanted a decrease, and we were never going to meet in the middle.

“But also, the way we do business has changed.

“We do not feel we need a high-street base any more. Most of our business is through our client base, brochures and the internet, with only the occasional sales through the showroom.”

The business is relocating to a four-storey Georgian house opposite the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, with the move expected to be complete by the end of March.

The vacated premises are being taken over by David Hickmet, a London-based fine arts and antiques dealer.

Mr Gardner added: “Petworth is at the centre of the antiques trade in Sussex but it has deteriorated, with quite a few of the dealerships closing.

“We have lost a couple of smaller dealers since Christmas.”

His view of the town’s fortunes is, however, a far cry from the upbeat message from Jackie Tudor, chairman of Petworth Business Association.

She told the Observer: “As the longer-established dealers go, younger ones are moving in – some of them relocating from London.

“These are the people who will take Petworth forward. They will be the driving force for the future which helps the town stay dynamic and makes it what it is for arts and antiques.

“It is cyclical change which is going on, which makes Petworth exciting.”