A LOCAL craft baker says he is fighting to save his livelihood after finding out bakery take-away giant Greggs has bought the shop next door to his.

Mr Mejar Singh, who owns WC Masters & Son bakery in Atherstone, North Warwick-shire, found out a month ago that the former hairdresser next door to him was being sold to Greggs. Mr Singh and his wife and parents have run the 100-year-old shop, with bakery attached, for the past 22 years, employing 12 people. He said: “The site was not sold directly to Greggs, it was sold through an agent. The hairdressers had no idea this would happen.”

When Mr Singh realised Greggs was planning to buy the site, after hearing rumours locally, he tried to buy it himself. His offer of £305,000 was rejected by the estate agents, who asked for £375,000.

He told British Baker: “It is not worth £375,000; shops in the area go for £290,000. I even gave Greggs the opportunity to buy out my own shop, but my offer was rejected.”

Mr Singh has since raised a petition in his shop to mea-sure local opposition to Greggs opening next door to him. This has so far gathered 200 signatures. He will also raise the issue in a local council meeting and in the local newspaper.

He told British Baker that Atherstone is a village with a population of 12,000. It already has three bakeries – a Three Cooks outlet, a bakery called Gaytons and a farmers’ market shop and bakery called Nightingales. His own bakery sells a 50-line range including bread, cakes, filled baguettes and sandwiches. It serves retail and some wholesale customers. “Greggs knows there is a bakery right next door to the shop it is buying. This town does not need another bakery,” he said.

A Greggs spokesman said Greggs prides itself on the contribution it makes to local communities. “There is no way Greggs would target an individual local business,” he said.

“We have wanted to open in Atherstone for four years. Trading in close proximity to a potential competitor, whether it is a local baker or indeed any form of take-away operation, does not necessarily have an adverse effect on their trading performance; in certain situations Greggs has enhanced the footfall in the areas in which we trade.”