Five months after family-run south London grocer Nour Cash and Carry was handed an eviction notice, the shop has been saved.
In a message sent out to followers of the “Save Nour Cash and Carry” petition, the Shaheen family, who have run Nour Cash and Carry for more than 20 years, shared the news that they had come to an agreement with their landlord Hondo Enterprises. Nour will be staying in Brixton Market.
“After months of negotiations, we are delighted to announce that we have reached an agreement with our landlords that allows us to continue supporting our beloved community from within the markets,” Samara Shaheen wrote in the letter. “We want to reassure our customers that we are happy with our new agreement and we now look forward to serving all of our customers, as we emerge from lockdown.”
Nour Cash and Carry was served an eviction notice in January this year by Hondo Enterprises, the property investment company that owns Brixton Market. At the time, the Shaheens had been in negotiation with Hondo Enterprises over their rent.
When the news of the eviction notice broke, grassroots group Save Nour Save Brixton quickly formed to oppose the eviction notice. Made up of around 20 Brixton locals, Save Nour Save Brixton made the news when it staged a digital protest at a DJ set by Hondo Enterprises’ director, Taylor McWilliams. Campaigners held signs during the Zoom party that said “HEY TAYLOR, YOU PARTY WHILE YOU TENANTS SUFFER, STOP EVICTIONS NOW!” and, “EVICTING FOOD SUPPLIERS DURING A PANDEMIC? CRUEL BRIXTON GENTRIFIERS.” The Save Nour Cash and Carry petition garnered almost 57,000 signatures.
Supporters of the campaign said that Nour provides a vital range of Afro-Caribbean and Middle Eastern foods for Brixton’s historically diverse population. Many customers had been coming to the shop for years, while others described it as a “really valuable community asset”.
Save Nour Save Brixton continued a public fight against Hondo Enterprises and McWilliams, taking further aim at Housekeeping, his DJ collective and music label. A video shared by the campaigners revealed controversial photos linked to McWilliams, and gained 1,700 retweets.
Hondo Enterprises maintained that the eviction notice was due to the need for a new electricity substation in Nour Cash and Carry’s unit in Brixton Market, after alleged complaints of electricity faults. At the time, Hondo told VICE: “We are not carrying out any evictions at this time and have been in discussions with Nour for over a year to ensure they stay within our markets. Hondo has invested extensively with regards to heating, drainage and the infrastructure within the markets, however, the lack of power still remains a major challenge with regular power cuts for the 50 traders in Market Row [a row of shops in the Brixton Market arcade]."
"In order to support all our traders, we are required to build a new electrical substation, which UK Power Networks informed us had to go adjacent to the existing substation and therefore unfortunately in Nour’s unit.”
The news is a win for the Save Nour Save Brixton campaigners, who have had to organise amidst a pandemic where traditional forms of protest are discouraged due to public health concerns.
In a press release, organisers of the campaign said that they would continue to fight against the gentrification of Brixton.
“After weeks of community campaigning, Nour has just signed a secure, long-term lease in Brixton market at a rent they can afford!!” it read. “This is a huge victory for community campaigning, as will be clear to anyone who has been following the fight to Save Nour over the past few months.”
“By refusing to retract the eviction notice for so long, Hondo forced a small campaign to grow as news of the injustice spread,” it continued. “We have built networks and connections, and raised funds, and drawn dots between the injustices we are seeing in our neighbourhood and across the city. The fight against gentrification in Brixton is far, far from over.”