A HISTORIC butchers’ shop at Oxford’s Covered Market is the latest fresh food seller to close.

John Lindsey will open for the last time tomorrow, leaving only Feller’s, Hedges and David John selling meat.

The closure of John Lindsey & Son, run by Mitzi Feller and Marc Young, is the latest blow to the market, which opened in the 1770s to get messy stalls off the streets.

The Alden family moved Haymans, the last fishmongers, out to Osney Mead in West Oxford in November and McCarthy’s fruit and veg stall left the same month.

Mr Young, 45, who lives with Ms Feller in Oxford, said: “This is a very sad day for us and it was a difficult decision to make.

“I started here at the age of 14 – I would come here and work after school – so I have put the best part of my life into the business.

“I learned the trade and worked my way up to manager.

“This unit has been part of the market since 1790 so of course we didn’t want to see it close but we felt we had no choice because we have seen a reduction in footfall over the years.

“In the past a customer might come in three or four times a week but now it is only once – shopping habits have changed and we have to adapt to survive.”

Mr Young said he and Ms Feller would now concentrate on running their other unit, Feller’s, which took over the John Lindsey unit in 1979.

He added: “The best thing we can do now is consolidate by closing one shop and we can carry on trading at Feller’s.

“What we offer can not be found at the Westgate Centre but the opening of the Westgate has had an impact on Cornmarket because some businesses have moved out.

“I think that has had a harmful effect on footfall in this part of the city centre.”

Staff working at John Lindsey will transfer to Feller’s so jobs are not affected.

Sandie Griffith, secretary of the Covered Market Tenants Association and who runs Jemini florists, said she was ‘saddened’ by the closure of John Lindsey.

She added: “This is another worrying sign for the market – first Haymans, then McCarthy’s and now John Lindsey.

“It obviously wasn’t viable for the business to keep running two butchers’ units.

“As far as I am aware, the John Lindsey unit should remain as a butchers but whether that will happen or not is difficult to say.

“Forty years ago the market was mostly butchers, greengrocers and florists but times are changing.

“We have to adapt to the changing face of retail but if you lose all your fresh produce you lose the heart of the market and are just left with a trendy arcade.”

Last month traders called for a radical re-think of how the market was promoted and run after city council leaders pledged £1.6m to improve the building.

The local authority owns the Grade II listed building and promised to spend £400,000 a year over the next four years improving the fabric of the building.