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Why this supermarket with ‘£70,000’ worth of stock inside has been closed for five months

PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:26 16 July 2018

Owner of the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street, Abul Hussain, inside the stocked up store which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Owner of the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street, Abul Hussain, inside the stocked up store which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The owner of a Norwich supermarket which has been without electricity for five months says he is losing £15,000 every week.

Abul Hussain was forced to close Desh World Foods Supermarket on Magdalen Street in February after his power was cut off.

The 44-year-old claims he lost £50,000 worth of stock overnight and now has almost £70,000 worth of items gathering dust inside.

Five months on and Mr Hussain’s business at Anglia Square is still without electricity, despite his efforts to get reconnected.

The Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street which has been closed since March. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street which has been closed since March. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“This has been incredibly stressful for me,” the father-of-three said.

“Every day I am losing money and the creditors are pressuring me now, because I am five months behind on my payments.”

Mr Hussain said part of the problem was due to UK Power Networks being unable to access land behind his supermarket.

Stock still on the shelves at the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEYStock still on the shelves at the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

UK Power Networks, which is responsible for electricity in the area, confirmed it had been trying to reconnect the business since April.

However, it said it had been unable to secure consent from the landowner.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who is helping Mr Hussain, described the situation as “ridiculous”.

Stock still on the shelves at the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street which has been closed since February. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYStock still on the shelves at the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street which has been closed since February. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He accused the organisations involved of “passing the buck”.

Columbia Threadneedle, meanwhile, which owns the adjoining Anglia Square site, said it was “committed to being a responsible landowner”.

Mr Hussain said his problems started in December 2017 when he attempted to change his electricity provider from National Gas and Power.

The cafe inside the Desh Supermarket which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe cafe inside the Desh Supermarket which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said the company issued him with a £20,000 bill for what it claimed was unpaid electricity.

Mr Hussain disputed the figure and was unable to pay the full amount immediately.

As a result, he said the company came into his supermarket days later and cut off his supply.

Owner of the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street, Abul Hussain, inside the stocked up store which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOwner of the Desh Supermarket in Magdalen Street, Abul Hussain, inside the stocked up store which has been closed since February Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He then had to rely on an external generator to keep his business operational over the following weeks.

But in January he claimed he was told by the landowner to remove the generator from the Anglia Square service yard.

With nowhere else to put it, and no other way to power his supermarket, Mr Hussain was forced to close in February.

Desh Supermarket signs. The store has been closed since February. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDesh Supermarket signs. The store has been closed since February. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He has been attempting to get his power reconnected ever since.

“Your third year is where your business is meant to be getting stable,” he said.

“It was my dream to have this store, and I was getting there.

Photo essay - Anglia Square.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPhoto essay - Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“But this is now slowly killing me.”

He said he was forced to throw away £50,000 worth of frozen and fresh produce.

And every week his business remains closed he claims he is losing an average of £15,000 in sales.

Photo essay - Anglia Square.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPhoto essay - Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Hussain, who employed 13 people at the supermarket, said he had taken legal advice. Labour MP Mr Lewis is also involved.

A spokesman from Mr Lewis’ office said: “Mr Hussain and I have been overwhelmed with legal and technical jargon and it has been almost impossible to get a straight answer from anyone.

“He has been completely at the mercy of this huge commercial giant and when he asked for help, he was continuously blinded by bureaucracy.

“The result of this has been that his livelihood is threatened.”

Columbia Threadneedle was asked why UK Power Networks was not being allowed onto the site.

But a spokesman for the company, which is behind the redevelopment of Anglia Square, said: “We are working with Desh Supermarkets to resolve a number of outstanding issues to help them get the assistance they require.”

A spokesman for UK Power Networks said: “We have been seeking permission to establish a new connection for the property since April.

“While we have not yet been able to secure consent for the access required from the landowner, we continue to pursue this and remain in contact with all parties to help find a resolution.”

Eric Kirk, chairman of the Magdalen Street Traders Association, said: “We are very sad to see that it [the supermarket] has remained closed because we see it as an attraction to the area. We would encourage the reopening of the site.”

National Gas and Power did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr Hussain opened the supermarket in February 2016 having borrowed £400,000.

His business, which sells foods and kitchen goods from around the world, was previously based in Cowgate from 2010.

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