AN independent business owner has hit out at the heavy-handed way he has been evicted from his city centre business, but has vowed to continue trading in the city.

Partly Chester, an artisan gift shop, continues to run online and at the New Chester Market, selling unique, "incredible" handcrafted items by British artists.

Partly Chesters former store in St Werburgh Street.

Partly Chester's former store in St Werburgh Street.

Until last week, it also traded from St Werburgh Street, with owner Harvey Simmons saying the site was beginning to generate plenty of interest after a quiet start.

But the shop abruptly shut for good earlier this month after bailiffs were brought in to change the locks and deny staff entry.

Partly Chesters former store in St Werburgh Street with the bailiffs notice attached.

Partly Chester's former store in St Werburgh Street with the bailiffs' notice attached.

That has meant over 50 pieces of artwork are still on site, with Mr Simmons saying that for those artists to retrieve their work, they have been told to pay £300 and travel to the shop to verify their identity and collect them, otherwise the items inside can be destroyed by the landlord.

Mr Simmons says while he accepts property firm Mason Owen, acting on behalf of the Trustees of the M C Walker 1987 Settlement, were legally entitled to take action to repossess the premises due to outstanding rent arrears, he has criticised their "ruthless" methods for a situation which could have been resolved more amicably.

Correspondence seen by The Standard shows the level of arrears was disputed, with Mason Owen claiming the figure stood at £30,512.18 at the start of 2024, while Mr Simmons says that, with a £7,500 payment made around that time, the balance due was actually £12,500.

A representative for Mason Owen informed Mr Simmons the trustees would "expect the unit handed back to them free of occupation and Partly’s fixtures/fittings/signage by the 31 January".

Mr Simmons said that, without advanced warning, bailiffs came on January 17.

He said: "They don't care. We can't get in, and I can't fight it because it would cost so much in legal fees. We were thwarted by people with deeper pockets.

"They acted on the Trustees of Malcolm Walker, who got a knighthood so apparently cares for entrepreneurs and start-ups. If he knows about it, why would he end about 50 artists' livelihoods?

Partly Chesters former store in St Werburgh Street.

Partly Chester's former store in St Werburgh Street.

"We are a small business – everyone loved what we were doing and that there were 40-50 independent artists. People were coming in and saying 'wow, what a service'.

"We had a customer who fell in love with this painting on display, but it was £6,000 and way too big. We said it could be resized, if you had the reference photo, and a smaller one was painted, and she got it for £1,500."

Mr Simmons put some of the store's recent upturn down to his staff who "had been completely committed to Partly" and the opening of the market store which meant more people were aware of the St Werburgh Street site.

The store closure has also put paid to the businessman's £100k plans for opening up a café which would have opened on the first floor.

Explaining the plans, Mr Simmons said: "It would be bringing people upstairs, where they could see 50 pieces of art. Once people go there and like it, they go back, they tell others and it's a success."

The businessman added he still has positive plans for the street, to promote more passing trade and revitalise it in the way other Chester city centre streets have been in recent years.

That would involve the street being semi-pedestrianised, to encourage more pedestrians to walk along the street, and tempt "small diverse indies" to set up shop.

Mr Simmons said he had received a lot of support for the initiative, including from the Dean of Chester Cathedral, and even his landlords, with a view to trialling the initiative.

He added: "I want the street to be filled with indies. The sad thing will be I will have credit [for the idea], and won't be a part of it."

Partly Chesters former store in St Werburgh Street.

Partly Chester's former store in St Werburgh Street.

Mr Simmons also found the intended replacement business for the unit – a clothing store – had renewed interest in the site after finding out about the proposed changes to the street. He said: "Here I am, believing that I am trying my best to look after the interests of Chester, St Werbugh Street and the landlord, only to find this has been used against me."

Mr Simmons added while the St Werburgh unit will no longer be home to Partly, "we are here to stay", and the business will continue trading at the New Chester Market and online at, with a view to opening a new store elsewhere in the city.

Mason Owen were contacted for comment.