MORE than 6,000 people have signed a petition to save two independent shops from being forced to close and replaced with a Co-op.

Two stores in Seven Dials in Brighton have had their leases bought by the supermarket chain next door.

Louise Oliver, owner of independent wine and spirits shop Seven Cellars, and Delia Perea, owner of the neighbouring delicatessen Latina, were both told they will be forced to leave when their contract ends in three years' time.

Louise said the historic shop fronts that date back more than 180 years would be gone for ever and she asked whether that was "worth another Co-op meal deal".

She said: “We were devastated when we found out in a phone call from our landlord.

“We would like to stay and for the Co-op not to move in, but they have made it very clear to us that they are going to.

“If they’re going to force us to move, we need help. I spent my money putting the shelves, lighting and desks in when I first moved in, and it costs a lot of money to do all that.

“The idea of having to do all that again - I just can’t afford it. I can’t afford to get a new shop - the solicitor's fees alone for a lease were around £5,000. It all adds up to a lot of money.”

The Argus: Louise Oliver questioned whether another Co-op in the area was necessaryLouise Oliver questioned whether another Co-op in the area was necessary

Louise hopes it can be possible to negotiate an extended lease with the Co-op, and said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of support her petition has received in less than a week.

The premises of both stores date back to 1841, a year after the construction of Brighton railway station.

She said: “Those shops were built at the very time that Brighton started expanding and started to become what we know it today.

“If they put another Co-op there, it would be a tragedy to lose that. In lots of countries, a shop of that age would be a tourist attraction.”

Louise said that, despite the Co-op’s ethical image, its actions were no different from any other big business, and said there was no need for another Co-op in the area.

She said she has been “honoured” by the response of the community to the news and those signing her petition in support of the cause. 

Louise said: “People are really upset and they want their voices heard on this. They're bullying two successful businesses. It’s tough to get your own shop and to have that taken away is awful.

“The lovely independent shops are what makes the character of Seven Dials - to have another supermarket not very far from another huge Co-op is wrong.”

A spokesman for the Co-op said: “Co-op is committed to serving and supporting the local community, including popular local independent businesses.

“We have had discussions with our neighbours who have leases in place which run until late 2025, and these will be honoured.

“At this stage we do not have any confirmed plans to extend our Co-op store.”

Ms Oliver's petition can be found at