A wine shop owner says she has been put "on death row" with uncertainty for the future of her business after Co-op bought the lease of her store.

Louise Oliver, who owns independent wine and spirits shop Seven Cellars in Seven Dials, Brighton, has been campaigning with Delia Perea, owner of the neighbouring delicatessen Latina, to save their shops from potentially being replaced by the supermarket chain.

The Co-op, which has a branch next door, bought the leases in April last year.

Louise feared that their historic shop fronts, which date back more than 180 years, could be lost forever and would dilute the character of Seven Dials - known for its independent shops.

Louise said that she has been left in limbo about whether her lease will be renewed.

She told The Argus: “The Co-op told us some months ago that they would make a decision on whether they would renew our lease or boot us out by October 2023.

“That date has been and gone and we are now back to a very vague statement that they will make a decision in the future.

“They are giving us absolutely nothing and are making it totally impossible to plan. I employ seven staff and they deserve to know what is happening.

“The Co-op don't appear to care about me or them, and they certainly don't care about the community in Seven Dials.

“For heaven's sake - there is another large Co-op store just 200 metres away. We don't need another one to be made larger.”

The Argus: The Co-op in Seven Dials, next to Latina and Seven CellarsThe Co-op in Seven Dials, next to Latina and Seven Cellars (Image: The Argus)

Louise said that some of her customers had recently taken it upon themselves to protest outside the Co-op on Dyke Road, collecting more signatures to save the businesses from closure, and even encouraging a boycott of the supermarket.

So far, the petition has attracted the support of more than 8,800 people.

Louise has slammed the Co-op for the move and said, despite the company’s ethical image, its actions were no different from any other big business.

She said: "We all know the benefits of a diverse high street. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the local community and economy knows that independent shops are the lifeblood of our high streets and they play a valuable role in offering a route to market for small local producers.

"We want to stay here. We have committed no crime but it feels as though they have put us on death row just because they can."

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

A spokesman for the Co-op told The Argus that the leases, which are in place until late 2025, “will be honoured” and that “at this stage, there are no confirmed plans to extend the Co-op store”.

“Co-op has committed to keeping its tenants updated as soon as there is further information,” the spokesman added.