Frenchies Dessert Parlour is closing down after two years, due to overheads and competition
The owners of Frenchies Dessert Parlour, an independent business in Camberley town centre, have decided to close after just two years.
Lucy Bass, of Camberley , and Rachel Davidson, from Sandhurst, said competition and a lack of trade outside the summer months had forced them to shut up shop before they had even been able to take a wage from the business.
Despite receiving a rent reduction from The Mall Camberley and investing in new features such as a private party room and a savoury menu, they have not been able to make ends meet and will cease trading on Sunday June 12.
The pair said they were struggling to sell the business as a going concern, to avoid defaulting on loan repayments.
They have already dropped the asking price to £25,000, half of what it cost them to set up the parlour in Obelisk Way in April 2014.
Mrs Bass said the worst moment was having to break the news to the parlour’s 15 young members of staff last week.
“We’ve only kept the business open for the last four months because we didn’t want to let them down,” she said.
“When we told them, it was horrible. Everyone was emotional and crying. It felt like someone had died.
“Our first summer was so busy, we didn’t know whether we were coming or going. We immediately paid back all our creditors except the bank, which perhaps we shouldn’t have done as we didn’t know what the winter would be like.
“In the autumn, business just dropped off and we didn’t know why. We tried doing what we could, despite being really limited on space, but people are fickle and they will come for a little while then disappear.
“In January, we announced we might have to close and it got really busy for a while, but then things went quiet again.
“Our supporters are really shocked and upset. Several businesses around ours have said how great it is having us here.
“But there’s only so much we can give and we can’t give any more.”
Mrs Bass said she and her business partner both had other jobs to tide them over and were exhausted from juggling their professional and family commitments.
“Our managers at Frenchies have done a fantastic job but it’s not the same as us being there full-time to drive the business forward. We thought the parlour would run itself but that has not been the case.
“We have been doing evening and weekends there on top of our other jobs and it has become increasingly difficult. We could put up with a certain amount of grief for a certain amount of reward but with no reward the grief is not worth it.
“It’s really sad because this business was our idea and our dream but we felt there’s more to life than working all hours.”
Frenchies will be holding an auction of items, such as its ice-cream cart and US memorabilia, in the parlour on Saturday June 11. However, its owners have not given up on finding a buyer to keep the business going.
“If someone has £25,000 to invest and doesn’t have to borrow money, it’s possible to make this business work,” Mrs Bass said.
“In fact, it’s a bargain because in the summer you can make twice that amount.
“We’re only looking to cover what we owe to the bank and get our lives back.”
Anyone wishing to express an interest in buying the business can contact Lucy Bass by sending an email to email@example.com