Lee-on-the-Solent wine shop The Wine Bank to close as owners retire and landlord sells premises

A POPULAR wine shop in Lee-on-the-Solent is to close due to the retirement of its owners, who have thanked the community for a ‘fun’ four-and-a-half years in business.

By Richard Lemmer
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 1:42 pm

Debbie and Michael Watts set up the business in 2018, selling a wide range of spirits as well as wine, but the couple have decided that ‘it’s time to go’ and shut the business in July.

The couple said their decision to close to the business was influenced by concerns about the economic forecast and the building’s landlord announcing his plan to sell the premises.

Debbie said had the economic climate looked rosier, the pair would have ‘absolutely’ considered staying on.

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Michael and Debbie Watts outside of The Wine Bank. Picture: Clive Jackson

The 61-year-old said: ‘We could have been tempted but with the economy the way it is it’s right time to go.

‘I didn’t want a new landlord and maybe a rent raise.

‘The high street is struggling.

‘We did think about selling it as a business, but we weren’t sure if anyone would want to take it on.’

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A social media post announcing the couple’s decision was met with dozens of comments from people lamenting the high street’s loss.

She said: ‘We have been inundated with messages. I had one lady come in in tears – she said, ‘I can’t believe that you are going’.’

‘We’ve had lots of fun in the last four and a half years.

‘I’ve had to explain to people – we are not going under.

‘The high street shops that become empty are not empty for very long – if someone wanted to take it over as a wine premises, it can work really well.’

The couple also own The Solent Mobility Centre, in the Lee-on-the-Solent high street, which is run by their son and will remain open.

The Wine Bank employs two part-time members of staff, with one of them also planning to retire, according to Debbie.

The business is looking to clear its stock and will run offers until its closure on Saturday, July 2.