Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The dealers themselves, some of whom have been at Chelsea’s Bourbon-Hanby Antiques Centre since it opened in 1997, say they are leaving because of unacceptable terms in their new leases and rent rises.

But the owners of the centre in Sydney Street, near the King’s Road, Ian Towning and Les Barrett, were far more candid and said it was not just that they wanted five of the standholders to leave, they had actually given them notice at the end of March that their contracts were to be terminated.

“After five years we are entitled to have a rent increase,” said Mr Towning, and of the departing tenants commented: “We are not putting up with dealers who bitch, who try and tell us how to run our centre.”

The standholders, a number of whom are moving across the King’s Road to Antiquarius, also stated that the management wanted them out because they did not fit in with new plans for the future of the centre.

The centre is changing direction, as Mr Barrett explained. From June Bourbon-Hanby will be known as an arcade and although it will continue to have plenty of antiques in the stock of its 26 tenants, there will also be much to interest the interior designer.

In keeping with much of the antiques trade, Mr Barrett feels the general thrust will be towards the decorator and therefore there will be good quality contemporary work alongside the antiques. “We are definitely changing our image, in the same way as they are at Olympia,” he said.