Right now, it seems that every Leeds success story is countered by a cutting loss, with the news that Peter Maturi has closed its doors, coinciding with the one year anniversary of Trinity Leeds opening.
Peter Maturi is a brand that’s well known in Leeds. It’s one of the city’s most loved independents and has been providing the foodies of Leeds with high quality kitchenware since 1899 – that’s when Peter Maturi Senior first opened up shop, and it’s been in the family ever since.
But the legendary independent has now closed down, announcing on Twitter that ‘Peter Maturi & Sons has ceased trading. Due to pressures of internet shopping & excessive business rates & rent, the shops are unsustainable.’
Which not only means that Leeds will lose one of its most reputable independents, but also that other Northern cities, including Manchester and Harrogate, will lose an equally prominent fixture.
It’s a major concern that independent stores that have been thriving for so long now find themselves unable to run a profitable business. There’s a real love of independents in Leeds. Over the last year and a half, our readers have proved as much, showing such passion for the unique and individual stores that Leeds has to offer that it’s hard to believe a business such as Peter Maturi would ever be at threat. But now it’s not just a threat, it’s a reality – and we have to question why that has happened.
Why has Peter Maturi ceased trading?
As you can imagine, this is an extremely difficult time for the Maturis. The store has been in their family for generations and you can rest assured they didn’t take this decision lightly, but rather were forced to cease business or risk falling further into debt.
Luisa Maturi was kind enough to talk to us and it soon became clear that there were a number of factors at play here, the most notable of which was our changing shopping habits. She told us, “The main thing is that footfall’s down – people don’t come out now, this is the thing.”
It’s so easy to shop online now, so convenient to have everything delivered that shoppers no longer need to visit the high street. For independents like Peter Maturi, this means they’re not just competing against local stores, but also online retailers – and without the personal, one-to-one service you get in-store, these sites are able to keep overheads down and profits up.
So when Maturi tweeted about rents and rates, they weren’t referring to an increase, rather the growing gap between the amount they pay out and the amount they bring in. As Luisa puts it, “business rates and rents stay the same and footfall reduces, because when those business rates and rents were set, internet shopping didn’t take up 50% of people’s shopping.”
It’s not like Maturi haven’t tried to tap into the trend for online shopping either. They had a fully functional website. Customers could, and did, order online. But as footfall dropped, the cost of the running the stores became too much. “This is the thing,” Luisa told us, “when people used to come out shopping, things were sustainable but when people don’t come out, the overheads are out of line.”
Their location hasn’t helped the matter. In years to come, the area is likely to be buzzing as Victoria Gate draws in the crowds – but right now, as construction begins, it’s having the opposite effect. It’s understandably frustrating for Luisa, “I didn’t want to do this, it wasn’t a decision that I wanted to make, particularly with everything happening in Leeds – but you know; it’s going to be a building site for two years.” And with the parking out the back of the shop now closed, it’s likely that footfall will drop even more.
Leeds feels the loss
Our heart goes out to Luisa. It’s impossible to imagine how hard this decision must have been, but even now, she’s still thinking about her customers. She wanted to emphasise this, telling us, “The most important thing is how valued our customers were. I appreciate the support and I apologise for having to make this decision, to staff and customers who have been loyal and supportive, but there’s got to be a breaking point…”
And she’s not the only one feeling the loss. Twitter has been filled with messages, as the independents of Leeds come together to say goodbye to one of their own. The Reliance tweeted “So sad to see another great independent store call it a day. Farewell @maturi_cookshop, old friends, we’ll miss you.” While Vickie and Nick from Homage2Fromage tweeted, “Very sad to hear the news of @maturi_cookshop’s closure. Truly a loss to the city of #Leeds.”
Their customers too, have been out in force, some wishing Luisa and the family luck in the future and others recognising the incredible service offered by Leeds’ oldest independent. Local writer Sarah Boston summed up the city’s feelings perfectly when she said,“@maturi_cookshop Such a shame. Your staff were always incredibly friendly and helpful – you’ll be missed.”
For us, this is yet another reason to support the independents. So this weekend, we’ll be spending our money in the indie stores, cafes and restaurants that remain, because without them, Leeds would be a much less interesting place.