A BUSINESSMAN says he has been forced out of Kidderminster’s “dead” town centre which he claims has become so overrun with charity shops it has killed his trade.

Kevin Barker, who owns Simply Charming and Simply Luxury, in Blackwell Street, said he had been left with no choice but to close his stores as they were no longer making enough money.

He said that side of town was now surrounded by charity shops, adding he believed they should all be moved to the former Woolworths store to free up empty units for small independent businesses.

Mr Barker will be shutting up shop on Thursday, October 31 and moving his stores, which sell organic soaps and holistic supplies, to Stourbridge, where he feels he will get more business.

“Kidderminster’s dead,” he said. “I’m at the stage where I’m just about holding my head above water – costs are being covered and that’s about it. I need to be able to survive.”

Mr Barker, who opened his shops in Kidderminster three years ago, said trade plummeted when Boots moved from the Swan Centre to Weavers Wharf last year.

“The clientele that used to use Boots stopped coming in,”

he explained. “The footfall has decreased enormously in Blackwell Street.

“There’s nothing to attract people up here. The rest of the shops are all charity shops.”

He said the “final nail in the coffin” was when he found out clothing store In Touch, opposite his shops, would be closing in December.

“I realised then another charity shop would go in there,” Mr Barker added.

“That would be five charity shops in a row. Charity shops have their uses but it attracts a certain type of customer and they’re not the sort of customer that would use my shop.

“ I remember in the 70s and 80s Kidderminster used to be a thriving little town but the decision was made to move everything to [Weavers Wharf and Crossley Retail Park] – that’s when Kidderminster died.”

Mr Barker said 60 per cent of his customers came from out of town but there was nothing to attract them to Kidderminster anymore.

He went on: “It was a very difficult decision to make. I feel very sad about it. I’ve got a loyal customer base and it’s going to be so sad to disappear.

I thank everyone for their loyal and continued support.”

He said he would be offering a delivery service for his customers.