Andrew Thornton

Andrew Thornton has sold his Budgens store in Crouch End.

Highly influential Top 50 indie Andrew Thornton has sold his flagship Budgens store on “the most competitive food retail high street in the UK” back to Musgrave GB to concentrate on his one remaining store.

The store, in Crouch End, North London, is well-known for trailblazing initiatives such as carrier bag charging, squirrel meat, a roof garden and chiller doors. But it is surrounded by competitors with a Waitrose, Tesco Express, Greggs, fishmonger, greengrocer, bakery, Italian food hall and health food shop all on the same road.

In a letter to customers, Thornton said he wanted to “concentrate my energies on running just one store (Belsize Park) to be able to deliver on my own personal ambitions”.

Trading has been tough since the Waitrose opened in October 2009. Pre-tax profits slumped 50.3% to £68,115 on sales down 2.1% to £15.9m in the year to 30 September 2011, the most recent accounts available for the two stores. But in the letter, he insisted: “At a core trading level, the store remains profitable.”

Thornton has run the store for seven years. He said Musgrave GB would sell it to another independent with no redundancies.