Things turn sour between pier and sweet shop man

Trader Jeff Sparkes SUS-140929-093709001

Trader Jeff Sparkes SUS-140929-093709001

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The owner of the Pick n Mix Sweet Shop on Eastbourne Pier says he is devastated and angry after being given two weeks to leave his unit on Eastbourne Pier.

Jeff Sparkes, who has worked on the pier for 25 years and opened his unit in 2006, says his lease is not being renewed and he must cease trading by tomorrow (Saturday).

He says he has met with the terms of his contract and was also offered a 20 per cent discount on this year’s rent because of the pier blaze last July but out of the blue was told his lease would not be renewed.

“Last year was horrendous for me as a concessionaire,” said Jeff. “The fire meant I basically missed out on a season’s trading and it was a turbulent and a financially strenuous time, but nevertheless my focus was just to get back to the pier properly this year and regaining some of my loss with the hope of starting on an even footing next season.

“I attended a meeting on February 10 with pier manager Christos Stylianou who told me a new operations director made a decision last October that my lease would not be renewed as he has worked on several similar enterprises throughout his career, which have all taken the sweet offering in house and therefore my contract will not be renewed this year.

“Why was I only told this in February? I think this is a totally inappropriate way to treat somebody that has given Eastbourne Pier 25 years’ service. I also have clear and concise issues about the way we as concessionaires have been dealt with by the pier management since the fire – we were totally ignored by them, given no updates or idea what was going on.”

Head of operations Ian Gardner said, “As part of our ongoing rebuild of the pier, we are planning a number of improvements including the development of our sweet shop offer. Our research identified an opportunity to try something different in this area, so will be opening a bigger and more comprehensive, new outlet in the coming months.

“We decided on a purely commercial basis not to renew Mr Sparkes’ annual contract when it runs out later this month, met with him to discuss this and are happy to meet with him again to talk about this further. We would like to thank Mr Sparkes for providing the pick ‘n’ mix concession on the pier.”