STALL-holders at an indoor shopping attraction which closed temporarily are appealing for the public to return.

Christchurch Emporium was shut after a dispute between its directors led one to seek advice from insolvency experts.

The business reopened regardless, but stall holders say trade has been quiet and they are keen for customers to come back.

Based in the former Mostyns curtain factory in Bridge Street, the business brings together more than 100 stall-holders, many of them sole traders with arts and crafts businesses.

Maria Walker, from Purewell, runs a fabric stall, Lazy Daisies and Butterflies, in the Emporium.

She said there were very few businesses like hers on high streets,. “So many fabric stores have closed down or don’t sell what everybody’s looking for,” she said.

“Everyone’s into up-cycling or buying hand-made now. If anybody comes to me who’s looking to sew, I’m happy for no charge to help them where they’re stuck.”

She set up the enterprise with the help of a £5,000 loan from the South West Investment Group, spearheaded by former Dragons’ Den businessman James Caan.

“I did look at a shop in the Fairmile but the rates and rent were absolutely extortionate. They were asking for £3,500 total a month,” said Mrs Walker.

She said the Emporium had a wide variety of businesses, including wool, ceramics, a photographer, a nail bar and facial massage.

“It has been very quiet since the closure was in the Echo,” she said.

“The disagreement is affecting the traders, which is very sad.

“I don’t want to see it close and the other traders don’t want to see it close after all the time and effort everybody has put in.”

Christchurch Emporium opened on April 18. The business had not applied for planning permission and had to submit a retrospective application.

Within three weeks ,a dispute between directors Lesley-Ann Simmons and Simon O’Sullivan led Ms Simmons to seek the services of Bournemouth-based insolvency adviser Mark Liddle Partnership. But the business reopened shortly afterwards and there has been no move to liquidate it.

A spokeswoman from Christchurch council said the retrospective planning application was not valid and the case was still with the planning officer.