A FLOWER shop in the city’s Covered Market celebrating its 30th anniversary is having to mark the birthday by downsizing.

Jemini is marking three decades in the city centre by opening its new shop.

However, owners Sandie and Bryan Griffith have had to downsize, because they say the rents in their previous unit had become too high.

But despite a high profile row with market owner Oxford City Council over its rent review, Mrs Griffith said she is still optimistic about the market’s future.

The 67-year-old said: “I believe in the Covered Market. I am not just a shop owner, I am secretary of the Covered Market Traders’ Association.

“We say it is the jewel in Oxford’s crown but there are not many markets around like this.

“The traders are all depressed with this rent review going on and we all want to get business back into the market.”

After being unable to agree on proposed rents for the market, with the city council having once attempted to put them up by as much as 70 per cent, the issue has now gone to arbitration.

The city council has also appointed a manager for the Covered Market for the first time and has agreed an action plan for improvements.

Sandie and Bryan Griffith started off as flower wholesellers but opened their own shop in 1984.

At their peak they had three shops, with one in Abingdon and one in Headington but these were sold when the couple got to retirement age and they now focus on the Covered Market store.

They have also won three Gold Medals and Chelsea Cups at the Chelsea Flower Show.

But Jemini has now had to move to a smaller unit because the rent of £24,000 a year was no longer affordable.

Mrs Griffith said: “I think it would be difficult if a shop started off from scratch in the Covered Market now. If they were already well-known it might be OK.

“Some of the units have changed hands several times recently.

“Unless they are a destination shop it is very difficult.

“The Covered Market has changed an awful lot but it is hard to compare it because the whole trading landscape has changed.

“Three decades ago you would have to push to get through the avenues but now it is an empty vessel. But I still enjoy trading here – otherwise I wouldn’t.”

Jemini will officially celebrate its 30th birthday tomorrow with the opening of its new store, which will be attended by the chairman of the British Florist Association, Brian Wills-Pope.

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