This is not a cheering tale. I had a call in June from Rakesh Patel who trades in Leeds. He had two businesses, a c-store and an offie only a mile apart from each other. The c-store, which he lives above, is a quite small freehold at about 600sq ft. It had previously been a Costcutter then a Lifestyle Express before reverting to independence. When the council changed the road layout all the passing trade went and he was left with just a few elderly customers. He got rid of PayPoint and moved the lottery to the leasehold off licence on the high street. In stark contradiction to the c-store, it is thriving.

What kind of advice could I give? A couple of others had rung lately telling me that they had converted their premises to residential because the commercial aspect had disappeared. But I urged him to get another opinion. In the past the high-profile Cheema brothers, Paul and Pinda, had told me that they were always willing to talk to fellow retailers to pass on their advice so I urged Rakesh to get in touch with them.

When I checked back, he had consulted Pinda, but came to the same conclusion. It was time to get out. Rakesh has put it up for rent and thinks it could make a decent fist of it as a coffee or barber shop.