Store Group has announced that Stretford Food Hall in Manchester will close on 11 February.
Company founder Mital Morar, who also owns General Stores convenience outlets, took the tough decision to stop trading, citing covid, the cost of living crisis and rising energy prices as contributing factors.
The cutting edge outlet, which combines a convenience store, bar, restaurant and social space, opened in 2019 and has hosted an eclectic mix of street food traders on rotation, as well as all manner of community events, including weekly quizzes, yoga classes, running club meet-ups, live music, lego fun days and art nights.
“It’s hard to share what it’s taken to get to today and decide to call it quits,” Mital wrote on social media platform X. “My ego has really struggled and my heart aches for where it’s all ended up.
“It’s resulted in all sorts of levers being pulled and decisions being made, which I’d never thought I’d have to make. Letting people down and being a place of constant stress and pressure is not where we aspire to be.
“Calling it a day is all about protecting our people, myself, my family and preserving what’s working going forward. We truly are in troubled times. I’ve learnt so much about how the world works and how it can eat you up, take advantage of you, and how little it cares for you currently.”
Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, also voiced his frustration at the closure on X, claiming that it was “another loss that could have been avoided, if the Gov’t had listened”.
He added: “Mital and his wife are incredible operators, who I wish all the best with their other ventures. If they can’t make it, God help the rest.”
In an excerpt from an open letter on the foodhall’s Instagram page, Mital said: “We haven’t ever really recovered [from covid]. Whilst trading through, winning awards, doing takeaway food and coffee, we evolved as much as we could with what we could post covid. Entering inflation, cost of living crisis and this crazy enduring energy situation… we have no more left in the tank.”
He thanked customers, suppliers and food traders for their support and vowed to continue the group’s involvement with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to support them in lobbying the government for change in the hospitality sector.
He added that he remained committed to the convenience retail side of the business: “It has been a tortuous few years. But we get up and fight daily. Whilst we are closing, we haven’t given up. We look forward to serving you again one day… for now see us at @generalstores_”
Store Group continues to operate the General Stores arm of its business, which comprises Ancoats General Store, Deansgate General Store, Moss Side General Store and Kampus General Store.
The Stretford announcement follows the closures of the group’s MediaCity General Store, which shut in June, and its Sale foodhall, which closed last April after less than 18 months’ trading. Rising costs, and the price of power in particular, were highlighted as the key reasons for the closures.
Despite the situation, Mital still managed to offer guidance to peers who may also be facing difficulties. “To those of you struggling - take advice, speak to as many people as possible and don’t leave it too late! Keep going!” he urged.