A MUCH-LOVED independent tea merchant is set to move and make way for student accommodation.
Gadsden Tea – also known as All About Tea – has announced plans to shut down its public-facing store in Middle Street, Southsea.
The firm’s owner, Andrew Gadsden, confirmed the closure would be the first step toward an eventual move to a factory in Hilsea in the summer.
His shop will stop serving in-house beverages today, but is pencilled to shut on March 31 – drawing a line under six years of operation.
Mr Gadsden said the plans marked an ‘exciting future’ for his business.
He said: ‘We are looking at this in a positive light.
‘Portsmouth is a city with a fantastic community spirit and we have loved every minute of the six years we have spent in Middle Street.
‘Of course we are sad to be closing down the open-door aspect of our business, but we believe the future is very exciting for us.’
When the firm moves, it will use its new premises to import, blend and pack products – including its popular Portsmouth Tea.
While the company’s on-street presence will cease, Mr Gadsden said the change of surroundings will take the business ‘back to its roots’.
He said: ‘Some people don’t realise, but we have actually been around for 11 years – we started life as an online shop.
‘There is a chance we could include some kind of over-the-counter service in our future plans, but in essence, this move will take Gadsden Tea back to its roots.’
Gadsden Tea’s current site was earmarked for residential development in freeholder Portsmouth City Council’s 2012 Somers Town and North Southsea Area Action Plan.
However, a planning application given conditional permission in 2013 – submitted by a private developer separate to Portsmouth City Council – proposed the construction of a four-storey, 66-flat student block and three commercial units in its place.
Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council’s leader, said the purpose of any related building project in Middle Street would be a decision for its developer.
She said: ‘The council has no relationships with any current tenants who all rent their premises from private landlords.
‘The council has no plans to build any development in Middle Street, including student accommodation.
‘We are not involved in developing plans to build on our property.
‘Portsmouth has a need for young professionals to live in good-quality accommodation, we do not however have a need for more student accommodation as has been mentioned.
‘But that is a decision for the private developer and not for the council as a partial landowner.’
Ahead of his firm’s relocation, Mr Gadsden issued a message of thanks to his customers.
He said: ‘All we can say is thank you so much for your support over the years.
‘It has been a huge privilege to have met so many tea lovers and we hope you will continue to use us online.’