A shop owner denied he is racist after he put up a sign banning foreign students.

But he denied his stance is racist - and says he also has the backing of town chiefs.

Mr Moffet said he was driven to take action after groups of students used his showroom to eat takeaway food.

He claimed his patience snapped on the third time he found students lounging on his furniture tucking into their McDonald’s dinner.

Mr Moffett said: “We have a small downstairs showroom selling general furniture.

“I came down to see four students on a three piece suite, four lying on one of the beds and another two sitting on the bedroom furniture.

“First of all the smell was terrible and fabric really holds in smells.

“Secondly one of them had spilled drink on one of my coffee tables and thirdly we found gherkins all over the floor when they left.

“They obviously didn't like the gherkins.”

Mr Moffett added: “After the students left we thought enough was enough and put the sign up because we have to sell the furniture to the public and it's not fair on them.”

The sign on the shop, in the Arndale Centre, Eastbourne, reads: “Polite notice: As this shop is of no interest to foreign students we are asking you not to enter.”

When asked by The Argus if he thought the sign was racist, Mr Moffett said: “Not at all.”

He said he recognised the contribution the influx of overseas students has on the Eastbourne economy.

Mr Moffett said: “Foreign students bring in a tremendous amount of money into the town and our business. Every year the host families need to buy new beds and things and they get them from us.

“So I have nothing against the foreign students but they have to abide by our rules.”

Mr Moffett added that there had been no further incidents since the sign went up two weeks ago and hardly anyone had complained.

He said: “So far I have only had one person ring me up and call me a racist.

“He was from Worthing though and seemed to think he was Mr Sussex.

“Certain people need to get a life. I am in business and will not have anyone ruining it.”

Mr Moffett said he has the backing of both Penny Shearer, who chairs the Overseas Student Advisory Committee on Eastbourne Borough Council and Norman Kinnock, head of tourism at the council.

Neither were prepared to comment but the council released a statement.

It said: “Any retail business will want to encourage customers to come into their premises to view and possibly sample the goods. However anybody that abuses or damages the stock will be unwelcome.

“The particular area of the store in question is a showroom and is not for use by the general public. Local people are aware of this but our young visitors may need this explaining.

“The council works very closely with language schools to make sure the messages of good behaviour are understood but there will always be those who choose to ignore instruction.

“Any business that has a problem with students is welcome to contact Penny Shearer and discuss the issue with her.”