THE OWNER of an independent pizzeria has denounced the University of Southampton Students’ Union for choosing to work with Domino’s.
David Hearth, owner of Popsi’s in Bedford Place, criticized the university’s decision to strike a deal with the national company for its freshman fair.
The 38-year-old received an email from the university offering him the opportunity to share his brand at the fair.
However, when David accepted the offer a week later, the university said Popsi had been invited “by mistake”.
“Appalled by the decision”
David said: “The University of Southampton told us they had an exclusive deal with Domino’s for the event so they couldn’t have any other pizzerias there.
“I said not only do you choose a massive company over a Southampton Companybut you also contacted us.
“We understand it’s business, but it wasn’t necessary.
“A lot of people said they were very shocked by their decision and appalled by it.”
It comes as soaring energy prices put increasing pressure on businesses in Southampton and beyond.
The current energy bill price cap is £1,971 per year, rising to £3,549 on October 1.
Soaring prices have forced downtown whole-food store Rice Up to close – and David is keen to avoid the same fate.
READ MORE: Southampton independent forced to close after soaring energy prices
He said: ‘It’s really worrying, especially as our gas bill will be £60,000 next year which has made it very difficult.
“It’s a perfect storm, so this decision was a kick in the teeth, especially since Popsi’s was made for students.
“It’s a very worrying time and we don’t want to be upset.”
“Committed to supporting independent businesses”
Southampton University Students‘ Union (SUSU), which organizes the fair, said it apologized to David for the mistake.
A spokesperson said: “Like many other student unions, SUSU has partnered with Domino’s for several years to increase revenue available for funding student activities and part of this arrangement is an exclusivity clause. .
“Unfortunately human error resulted in Popsi’s being invited to the freshman fair in error and when this was revealed it was immediately corrected as their attendance would have been in breach of contract with Domino’s.
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“We have explained the situation and apologized to Popsi’s.
“As a local charity ourselves, the Students’ Union is committed to finding ways to support and work with independent local businesses and we are identifying ways to do this without breaching existing contracts.”
In response to the university’s decision, David and other independent business owners held a free freshman fair for all students at The Hobbit pub on October 2.
More details on this will be released later.
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