RESTORATION work has led to a city centre business moving to a new home.
Popular sweet shop Sweet Home Alabama has left its base in High Street West, Sunderland.
The family-run business has moved to the top of Fawcett Street from the former shop on Mackie’s Corner, after landlord Gentoo announced plans to restore the historical Hutchinson building.
Staff spent nearly nine hours moving about 1,000 jars of sweets into the new red and white home, including Sunderland’s favourite –sarsaparilla tablets.
Sweet Home Alabama had been at the corner for more than seven years, after first opening up in Park Lane Market.
Owner Martin O’Neill said: “We’re really proud of the new shop, because it looks like a national chain, but we are just an ordinary Sunderland family running a businesses.
“We had the signs made in Sunderland, the shutters made locally and the printing done by a local company.
“Everything we had done for the shop, we kept the business in the town.
“It’s important for everyone who lives in Sunderland to make sure jobs and services stay in Sunderland.”
Martin would like to see help for businesses so more empty premises in the city centre can be filled.
“When they are charging rent, landlords have unrealistic expectations of what trade levels are like,” he said.
“Sunderland City Council needs to put pressure on landlords to get premises open again.”
Speaking about the move, Stewart Allen, managing director of Gentoo Ventures, said: “This building is in urgent need of significant repair.
“We are therefore looking to undertake a major restoration scheme which would require the entire property to be vacant.
“We are currently looking in to ways of funding the scheme.”
Hutchinson’s Buildings were constructed by and named after shipbuilder Robert Hutchinson in 1845.
They were home to Dr William Clanny, who invented the miners’ safety lamp and the first tenant of the corner shop was hatter Robert Mackie.
The clock in the dome was installed a few years later and Mackie’s Corner soon became a favourite meeting place for Wearsiders, as well as the starting point for a traditional race along Fawcett Street every New Year’s Eve.
In 1898, fire broke out in a building opposite and destroyed half of the premises.
However, the corner survived and the rest of the now Grade II-listed building was rebuilt.
After Mackie’s death, various tenants moved in and out, but no new name has ever caught on.