AN independent chocolate shop is to close after suffering a decade of falling sales.

Minerva Chocolates, in Eld Lane, Colchester, will be shutting down at the end of the year despite staff trying everything to reduce costs.

Business owner Alan Edwards said: “At the age of 74, it is ridiculous to use your income to prop up a loss-making business.

“We also thought, having had an offer to take over the lease of the Eld Lane shop, that we might move to a better, cheaper, site.

“Sadly, though, none of the propositions we received made any more commercial sense.

“With the current level of support, an independent top end confectionery business can no longer survive profitably in Colchester.”

He said the closure of Jack’s, Geller’s, Frank Wright and Proctor’s butchers shops amongst other indepedent stores told the same story.

He said the shop has seen 12,000 less customers a year than they were serving ten years ago.

He added: “The decline in footfall is down to a change in lifestyle and shopping experience and the council not managing the town centre.

“There are the problems of parking, traffic, lighting and presentation. It has been less than satisfactory.”

The building in Eld Lane has been sold but who has taken over remains confidential.

Alan said: “What will happen after Christmas, we do not know. We will not be in Eld Lane but I can’t say anything further.”

Council leader Paul Smith said due to a change in shopping trends, independent businesses may be struggling.

He is backing a move to make Colchester a Business Improvement District and give more powers to businesses.

He said: “A lot of other businesses are coming in with high value investments. The council is trying to support the BID which will generate extra resources and give smaller businesses the ability to have a say.”