P&R Italian shops in former Maidstone and Sittingbourne JC Rook & Sons butchers close

Two of the “expensive” takeaways will be closing down just months after they were launched in the former JC Rook & Sons butchers’ units.

The owners of the Italian P&R stores in Sittingbourne and Maidstone, Giggi Rosa and Claudio Pucci, say they cannot continue trading because the companies are losing too much money.

The Italian Store, Sittingbourne

However, their Tunbridge Wells branch will remain open.

The shop sells fresh and dry foods imported from Italy, including pizza, pastries, and desserts.

Gigi’s cousin, William Pucci, said: “We didn’t have enough staff to keep running the company and we weren’t making enough money.

“Our business model, which is to import expensive food from Italy, has not blended in with the current cost-of-living crisis.

“We are going through the lockdown aggressively but we weren’t making enough money to pay the bills.

P & R Italian store in Maidstone
P & R Italian store in Maidstone

“We don’t want to go bankrupt, that’s why we made this difficult decision, it breaks my heart.”

The family is selling the lease on the Maidstone unit, which opened on the Mall in August – with its building license and £100,000 of equipment – for £29,990.

A five year lease on the unit on Sittingbourne High Street, which opened in June, is being sold for £11,000, again for £100,000 fit-out, with the rent to be paid until February next year.

The family took over the units after the Rooks butchers chain, which had 11 stores across Kent, went into administration without notice in March.

About 155 employees were laid off after the pandemic took a toll on the 50-year-old company.

The Italian store was in the old JC Rook and Sons Butcher unit
The Italian store was in the old JC Rook and Sons Butcher unit

At the time of the launch of the Sittingbourne P&R store William said: “They are a little more expensive, but they are quality.

“It’s healthy, good for your body, and it tastes great.

“So we’re not going to apologize for being a little more expensive, and you have to keep in mind that we have to pay shipping fees all the way from Italy.”

William told KentOnline this week: “We’ve had a lot of people come into our stores and say how beautiful it is.

“But unfortunately they couldn’t buy anything and the compliments don’t pay the bills.

“We lost about £50,000 but we really hope whoever else buys this unit and everything in it can turn it into something else great.”

Cannoli and other desserts are available at P & R Italian Shop in Maidstone
Cannoli and other desserts are available at P & R Italian Shop in Maidstone

Giggi and Claudio hope to put all their time, effort and remaining money into their flagship store in Tunbridge Wells.

William finished: “We just want to thank everyone for their support.

“We in no way blame the customers for our closure and look forward to continuing to serve them in our Tunbridge Wells store.”

A closing date for Maidstone and Sittingbourne stores has yet to be confirmed.

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