Hatton Gardens, London's jewellery quarter, is feeling the pressure as online competition and rocketing rents are cutting footfall to retailers and forcing some to consider shutting altogether. Hayley Platt reports.
Diamond jewellery has been made and sold in this square half mile of London since medieval times. Hatton Garden is a collection of vaults, tunnels, stores and workshops dedicated to the craft. But with crossrail opening in just two years time - its future is in doubt. SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, JAN HARVEY, SAYING: "The station every day, station only 150m from hg, bring much more footfall to the area. That's a big opportunity but it's also potentially a threat, that has attracted lots of businesses to area, it's potentially pushing up rents." Rents in the area have doubled in the last three years. And stiff competition from online retailers is also making life difficult. SOUNDBITE (English) ARLINGTON JEWELLERS, OWNER, STEPHEN BERMAN, SAYING: "We're dealers, we're traders. Every time a customer walks in it's a new deal. We're not Tiffany, I haven't got a little blue box to rely on. We have to offer more. We offer fantastic value for money." The stores' higher overheads make matching prices tough. The area has also faced criticism for failing to promote itself. Some argue that planning rules should be used to force landlords to provide space to jewellers at below market rates. But with Amazon and Goldman Sachs already moving in... And hungry young media and tech companies eyeing the area... Many jewellers may decide that a Hatton Garden store is a luxury they can't afford.