A FAMILY-run jewellers is to close after deciding not to sign a new lease that would force them to open seven days a week.
R Ayling, in Fareham Shopping Centre, Fareham, is to close on Saturday at 5pm and its owners Bob and Sheila Ayling will be retiring after spending 10 years at the centre, and 26 years in the town.
The shop has never opened on Sundays or bank holidays, but under the terms of a new five-year lease, the Aylings would have to open on those days.
Mr Ayling, 63, said: ‘They really wanted a minimum of a five-year lease and they didn’t like it that we don’t open on Sundays.
‘When we signed up 10 years ago, we had a clause in the lease saying we didn’t have to open on Sundays, but that wasn’t an option this time.
‘We get on well with the landlord’s agent, but we didn’t want another five years.
‘And we didn’t want to carry on working in our late 60s, so we decided that the time was right to give it up.
‘By shutting it down ourselves we are going out on a high, it’s not because we’re going bust, it’s our decision, we are in control – it’s been such a relief.’
Mr Ayling started as a jeweller with Samuels in Portsmouth in 1969, and decided to strike out with his wife in 1987 when they opened a small store in Fareham’s Trinity Street.
After four years there they moved to West Street, where they remained for 12 years before moving to the shopping centre.
The Aylings employ five other members of staff.
Mr Ayling added: ‘If I’m not prepared to work Sundays, I’m not prepared to make my staff do Sundays.
‘It’s not because we’re religious, but I do believe it should be a day for the family to be together.’
Regular customer Lucy Docherty, from Fareham, said: ‘I’m really going to miss them. You got a very personalised service there. A lot of people know them and trust them.’
Fareham Shopping Centre manager Mike Taylor said: ‘Ultimately it was their decision to leave, but it’s a shame they are going, they have been long-standing tenants.
‘The more tenants we have who open on a Sunday, the better, but all businesses have their own individual requirements, and not opening Sundays was something they have done for quite a while.’
Independent jewellers Two Kings of Fareham will be opening in the unit next week.