A JEWELLER of 40 years says an overcrowded market in Brighton’s historic Lanes is forcing him to rethink his business.

Doug Newman has run Gold Arts jewellers in Brighton Place for decades. The 81-year-old from Steyning set up the family business in 1979, when he was just one of a handful of jewellers in The Lanes.

But he said he is having to turn part of his business into a pawnbrokers because the area has become “saturated” with jewellers.

And he said fears over Brexit and pressures on retail in the city are causing difficulty.

Speaking from his wooden workbench, Doug said: “I’ve been a jeweller in The Lanes for 40 years.

“When I first started, there were seven jewellery shops here. I had to wait years and years to get my own shop in The Lanes.

“Now, there are 17 jewellers within a two-minute walk of us.

“Many of them are very good. But with so many more shops, the business around here has watered down tremendously.

“If I didn’t own the freehold on our shop, we’d be making a loss.

“We have branches in Chichester and Eastbourne and they’re not seeing this. They’re very successful, and they’re growing.

“I’m afraid it’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth in The Lanes.

“There’s no way the demand for jewellery is big enough to support all these shops.”

Doug said he plans to expand the pawnbroking side of his business, G.A Pawnbrokers, to combat the troubles his company faces. He hopes the new venture will add ballast to the business.

Doug said: “We’re going to have a bespoke pawnbrokers shop.

“In the past, only poorer people were thought to visit pawnbrokers.

“But now, lots of people are looking for secure, short term loans. They leave valuable items with us as security.”

Doug said there were other factors at play in his decision, too.

“We’ve also been affected by the political climate”, he said.

“Brexit has left us in flux for three years now. Public confidence is still low, and nobody wants to go out and spend money. It’s been hitting the jewellery trade hard.”

He said jewellery shops have taken a knock with the rise of internet shopping.

“People want to see and make sure they like what they’re buying – especially if it’s an engagement ring or something special”, he said.

“But at the cheaper end, people are increasingly buying online. Others must be struggling too.”

Doug said The Lanes are now very different to the cobbled, bustling shopping streets he remembers when he first set up shop in the 70s.

He said: “Business in The Lanes has changed drastically.

“The retail side has fallen off. There are more restaurants, many of them very good, and far too many clothes shops. Businesses are suffering.

“There used to be more people in the town, too. Footfall is dropping in the area.

“Even in the new development in The Lanes, there are empty shops.

“Retail is changing, and The Lanes are very different now.

“As a generalisation, there’s a lot more nightlife here than there used to be.

“When we used to get called out to our alarm going off at 10 or 11pm, there’d be no one about. Now, there are lots of students. It’s become something of a party town. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, to my mind.

“But this area is changing, and we’re having to change too.”