The owner of Brighton-based independent drinks retailer Seven Cellars has gathered almost 7,000 signatures in a bid to stop the site being taken over by a neighbouring Co-op store.

Louise Oliver said the lease, which expires in 2025, had been sold by her previous landlord to the Co-op without her knowledge. She said architects had been sent by the Co-op to measure up the store, but she had recently been informed that no decisions would be made for 18 months. 

“The problem is they want to throw us out in 2025 with nothing but statutory compensation,” she said. “This is poor. This is not treating us with any respect. This is not serving and supporting local business.

“We have businesses to plan and we now can’t see further than 18 months ahead. I think this treatment is completely unacceptable and it is for this reason I began the petition. I had to make them see what they were doing was not honourable.”

Oliver also pointed out that there is already a much larger Co-op less than five minutes’ walk from the smaller Co-op next door but one to her shop.

A spokesperson for 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.”

Drinks Retailing understands that there is a subsequent planning application to build flats on top of Seven Cellars and the neighbouring cafe, but this is not connected to the Co-op.