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‘It is the hardest that I have ever known it’ - South Norfolk bakery closes store amid financial difficulty

PUBLISHED: 13:43 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:29 14 September 2018

Paul Muncila (right) owner of The Tudor Bakehouse in Harleston, Eye and Diss with members of the team

Paul Muncila (right) owner of The Tudor Bakehouse in Harleston, Eye and Diss with members of the team

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A South Norfolk bakery is having to close one of its outlets after the company was hit by increasing rent rates and bills which the owner says he can not afford.

Alice Hirons from The Tudor Bakehouse. Picture: Nick ButcherAlice Hirons from The Tudor Bakehouse. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Tudor Bakehouse-run bakery in The Street, Long Stratton, will have its last day of trading on September 29 after a loss in footfall and increasing rents forced owner Paul Muncila to “restructure” his business.

Mr Muncila, 60, said: “Times are hard with rents and rates and I’m having to restructure the whole company.

“I have an office around the back of the Harleston store which I am also closing, but at the moment the store is okay.

“I’m struggling in Diss as well, it’s the problem of rents, rates and the fact people are not coming into towns as much.”

The Tudor Bakehouse, Harleston. Picture: Nick ButcherThe Tudor Bakehouse, Harleston. Picture: Nick Butcher

The firm has bakeries in Diss, Eye, Harleston and Long Stratton. The need to close Long Stratton came as a shock to Mr Muncila, who grew up in Diss, after his business had previously been flourishing.

He added: “Two years ago I had the best year ever yet two years later I’m in this situation. I have to give pension contributions now and as I employ 50 people that hit me for £15,000 a year.

“Rent and rates are relenting, the minimum wage goes up every year and I can’t pass that price onto the customer. Who is going to pay £2.50 for a loaf of bread?”

Mr Muncila opened his first Tudor Bakehouse in Harleston in 1991, followed by his Diss store in the Heritage Triangle two years later.

Tina Harper cutting bread in the Tuder Bakehouse in Harleston. Picture: Nick ButcherTina Harper cutting bread in the Tuder Bakehouse in Harleston. Picture: Nick Butcher

He added: “It is the hardest that I have ever known it. Harleston has been the best shop in my business and Eye is phenomenal because it is a little town that everyone stays in.

“I don’t want to be all doom and gloom as you have to relook at your business and restructure accordingly.

“However good my bread is or my staff, if you have a free car park outside a supermarket customers are going to go there, not walk into town.”

However, Mr Muncila says he will “come back from this” in a bid to keep town centres alive.

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