Express & Star

Wolverhampton store forced to close after three decades due to 'disastrous' roadworks scheme

One of the longest standing clothes shops in Wolverhampton is set to close down after losing more than £100,000 in trade due to a council pedestrianisation scheme.

Boss Jason Ody says the Victoria Street roadworks scheme has destroyed his business

Le Monde has become the latest victim of the controversial work on Victoria Street that has left the area blighted by empty shops and low footfall.

The designer menswear shop has been a mainstay of the city centre for the last 27 years, but boss Jason Ody said the impact of the roadworks had left him "fighting a losing battle" to stay open.

He said that over the last year he had lost more than £100,000 in revenue and had spent all his savings and taken on debt trying to keep his store up and running.

At least seven businesses have closed down since the Labour-run authority's £15.7m scheme started in January 2022.

Mr Ody said: "We had just come out of the pandemic and the council forced this work on us. We had absolutely no choice in it and it has completely destroyed our business.

Designer menswear store Le Monde opened up in the city centre 27 years ago

"You look outside now and there's nobody around. It feels like the council have just cut off this side of the town and they don't care what happens to businesses like mine.

"You have other issues like the lack of parking and the bus routes going, and I think most people have just given up coming into Wolverhampton."

Mr Ody said he was in the process of trying to get rid of his remaining stock and would likely close the doors for the final time within a couple of months. He then hopes to reopen his other Le Monde store in Tettenhall.

He said too many businesses had already been forced to shut down and many of those that remained were "clinging on by their fingernails".

"People are behind on their rent, they owe money to family members and the tax man," he added. "I've spent all my savings trying to keep this place open and it has had a terrible impact on my mental health.

"This is my home town and I want the best for it, but I just don't recognise it anymore."

Mr Ody says he is unlikely to get any compensation from a hardship scheme the council set up for people impacted by the works, which has seen just five businesses out of more than 50 receive payments – understood to be £5,000 each.

The roadworks on Victoria Street, seen here in June 2022, have led to a number of stores closing down

He also took umbrage at comments from the council's environment chief, Councillor Steve Evans, who said he would not "apologise for investing in Wolverhampton".

Mr Ody said: "He says that but it's our money, not his. I've invested 27 years of my life in Wolverhampton and they don't seem to care one bit what is happening to businesses.

"What about the staff who are losing their jobs? We've had a total lack of support from his council during this whole disastrous project.

"While all this has been going on not a single one of the Labour councillors has come to see how we are. I feel badly let down."

Last month the boss of another long-standing Victoria Street operation, Toni & Guy, accused the council of putting him out of business with the roadworks.

The scheme, which the council insists will drive up footfall, was due to be completed in February. Last month the council gave a new finishing date of March 22.

A council spokesperson said they were "saddened" and added the authority had "no obligation" to support businesses, but will continue to do so through support reviews and an events programme on Victoria Street.

The council has unveiled plans for a £6m 'box space' on Cleveland Street, while Lichfield Street and Darlington Street will be pedestrianised under a £12.5m scheme.