Wholefood store set to relocate over Covid rent reduction refusal

Richard Austin from Rainbow Wholefoods

Richard Austin from Rainbow Wholefoods. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

The owner of a popular wholefood shop in Norwich said it is relocating after failing to agree a reduction in its rent to reflect the impact of coronavirus. 

Rainbow Wholefoods, which has been based in Labour In Vain Yard off Guildhall since 2004, is set to move to a new permanent home at Davey Place next month. 

Owner Richard Austin said the pandemic had drastically reduced trade, with customers still being served at the door due to the restrictions of the store’s size and lay-out. 

Vegetarian restaurant Wild Thyme, which shared the building with Rainbow Wholefoods, closed last year.

“It has had a massive impact on us. It has basically absorbed all our savings,” said Mr Austin, who started the business in 1976 as a 26-year-old UEA philosophy graduate.

Rainbow Wholefoods has moved back to its original home in Labour in Vain Yard in Norwich after a fir

Rainbow Wholefoods has been based in Labour in Vain Yard in Norwich since 2004. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Negotiations with the building’s owners for reduced terms on a new lease had failed prompting a search for new premises, he added. 


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“When the landlord simply said your restaurant is closed by law, that was a step too far for me,” he said.

“We probably would not have moved if it had not been for that. So in that respect he actually did us a bit of a favour.

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“After Covid I don’t want to be in a hidden away yard anymore I want Rainbow to be a little bit more in people’s faces because we don’t know if Norwich will ever regain it’s footfall.”


Work underway on the new Rainbow Wholefoods store in Davey Place.

Work underway on the new Rainbow Wholefoods store in Davey Place. - Credit: Simon Parkin

The move to Davey Place will be the third in two years for the store after it temporarily relocated to Lower Goat Lane for 10 months following a fire

The old Jessops building next to Lloyds Bank is being completely renovated for the new shop which will open early next month. 

It will include a first floor cafe with Mr Austin searching for someone to own and run it. 

“Everyone in that trade has been hit by Covid but we want to get the right people in. It will have to be vegetarian and GM free,” he said. 

Rainbow Wholefoods in Labour in Vain Yard in Norwich

Rainbow Wholefoods supplies a range of wholefoods, organic and ethically sourced products as well as vegetarian and vegan alternatives. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Rainbow Wholefoods has been trading in Norwich for more than 40 years and supplies a range of wholefoods, organic and ethically sourced products as well as vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

It was located in Dove Street for more than 30 years below the Tree House cafe which introduced generations of diners to vegetarian food.

1978 price list from the Rainbow Wholefoods

1978 price list from the Rainbow Wholefoods store that was in Dove Street for more than 30 years. - Credit: Submitted


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