THE manager of a small, family-run business says customers are driving past its store due to its sign being blocked by outdoor racking from a DIY giant.

J-Mart Warehouse, an outdoor living firm based on Spring Lane in Malvern, is concerned its business will suffer if the racking put in by B&Q is not downsized or removed.

Its site neighbours, B&Q, has installed a large amount of outdoor racking on its car park that has blocked the view of J-Mart's store from the street.

Store manager Ryan Jones said customers have informed them that they are missing the shop because it is out of view.

Malvern Gazette: B&Q has installed racking that has blocked J-Mart Warehouse's sign despite its planning application not yet being approved by the councilB&Q has installed racking that has blocked J-Mart Warehouse's sign despite its planning application not yet being approved by the council (Image: Ryan Jones)

"It has been ongoing for about six weeks now when they first started installing the racking," said Mr Jones.

"It has all gone up and customers have been complaining to us that they are missing the shop because they can't see it.

"They usually drive past and see the sign - so we are losing out.

"They shouldn't have done it in the first place, we would have liked to have been notified as we were not told about it before it went up."

Mr Jones said that B&Q had submitted an application to the council for planning permission to install outdoor racking but that it hadn't yet been approved.

"We found the application and saw that it had not been approved," he added.

"We have never had a problem with them, we get on well.

"We sell similar things as they do, so sometimes we help one another by recommending customers visit their store and vice versa."

Mr Jones, who has worked for the company for 14 years, said the store was losing out massively in driving in new customers.

"Footfall is down massively at the moment, we are losing out on new customers who we fear will go to the other shops instead.

"If they could just make their shelving smaller or move it elsewhere on their site the sign would be clearer to customers driving by.

"B&Q is a massive company and we're a small, family-run business so we don't know why they are doing that to us."

B&Q submitted its planning proposal to Malvern Hills District Council in February of this year.

It proposed an extension of storage compound into a section of existing car park to facilitate safe turning for HGV delivery vehicles with gates, racking and fencing.

A spokesperson at Malvern Hills District Council, said: “The Planning Enforcement Team are currently investigating this matter”.

A B&Q spokesperson admitted incorrect racking had been installed.

He  said the construction of the 2.4m high fenced compound was an "essential step to enhance the safety measures for our colleagues and customers, ensuring a secure area for deliveries." 

They added: "We understand the importance of clear visibility for all local businesses and want to assure the community that, at a height of 2.4m, signs belonging to our neighbours are not obscured by the new fencing.  

"Unfortunately, incorrect racking has been installed in front of the fence and this is being replaced with lower racking at a height of 2.4m.”