Knight and Lee closure: Traders fear department store going will signal the death of shopping in Southsea

TRADERS think the closure of Knight & Lee will be a ‘massive blow’ for Southsea with retail ‘dying’.

Knight and Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Knight and Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea Picture: Habibur Rahman

The John Lewis-owned department store on Palmerston Road announced it is shutting its doors in July despite being arguably the area’s most popular store.

While 127 staff face up to the possibility of being made redundant, retailers are worried about the impact the closure of the store – which has been a fixture in Southsea for more than a century – will have on the surrounding area.  

Dean Searl, manager of butcher’s Buckwells of Southsea, which has been on Osborne Road since 1987, said: ‘It is a big loss to the area – it is very sad. It is strange because it always seems so busy. It will have an effect on other businesses in the area – I’m concerned about the effect it will have on us.

Knight and Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘There are so many stores down the street that are now empty – retail is dying. Retailers just can’t afford what they are being asked to pay. It is very shortsighted to put rates and rents up. Portsmouth has nothing these days whereas Southampton has everything.’

Sam Arabbetou, owner of Granda Jewellers, said: ‘It is a real shame. I’m very shocked. What the hell are they doing closing such a popular store? I go there for my lunch and it is always busy.

‘Some of these big companies don’t care about closing. If they are not making enough money then these days they just sell.

‘There are so many shops that are now shut in Southsea. It is not good for us the retailers or the people of Southsea. People will have to go to Southampton now  but why should we have to go there? More needs to be done to help traders.’

Martin Knight, owner of Southsea Coffee, said: ‘It will be a great loss to the area – it’s been there for so many years. It is part of the fabric of Southsea society. What are they going to do with the building now?

‘It seems to be the nature of retail and how things are changing. Just look at Marks & Spencer on Commercial Road.’