Popular Southsea book store owner takes swipe at property agency ahead of closure
THE owner of a popular long-running book shop that is being forced to close after a ‘massive’ rent hike has taken a swipe at a property agency after revealing: ‘They are finding it harder than they thought to sell the store.’
Adelphi Books owner Robert Smith told The News he had been subjected to ‘unfair’ rent increases by Holloway Iliffe & Mitchell that had left him with no choice but to call time after 33 years of trading in Albert Road, Southsea.
The under-fire owner was slapped with hikes from £5,250 to £7,500 a year, with an interim payment of £6,500, before being dealt the final nail in the coffin after being suddenly told to cough-up £10,000.
Robert’s predicament has led to him slashing prices before now offering all his books at a quarter of the usual price alongside ‘everything free days’ ahead of closure on January 21.
The stark reality of Robert’s situation has been reinforced after Holloway Iliffe & Mitchell put up a sale board outside the shop and have turned up unannounced to inspect the premises.
But following the agency’s ‘review’ of the market and sudden demand of £10,000 rent, Robert told The News they are struggling to find any takers at their ‘alarming’ levels.
The 62-year-old said: ‘There’s been some enquiries but when I tell possible buyers about the rent they walk away as its too expensive. People are being scared off by the prices.
‘Holloway Iliffe & Mitchell told me “don’t tell people anything, we’ll speak to them”. But I’m only telling people what’s in the lease and what the rates are. It seems they are finding it harder than they thought to sell the shop.’
Robert, who has also been warned he will have to pay repair costs up to £5,000, is still pushing ahead with plans to move on from his beloved shop with him selling items in the shop to clear space.
‘I couldn’t afford the rent hike to £7, 500 so I definitely couldn’t afford to pay £10,000,’ he said. ‘The whole situation has caused me a lot of stress.
‘I have a lot of stock to shift but have sold some bookcases so hopefully I’ll be able to get the shop clear in time.’
Robert admitted his plans are still up in the air after his lease expires but could do some volunteering work and sell his books online. ‘I’ll keep in touch with my customers and will probably sell my books online,’ he said.
‘I would have been happy to run the store for another few years before retiring but that doesn’t look likely now.’
Stuart Mitchell, partner of Holloway Iliffe & Mitchell, wrote in his letter to the shop owner in September: ‘Without prejudice to our further review of the market value, we have recently let the property immediately next door to you and therefore we have a well-established rent level for this location.’
The letter continued: ‘We would be looking at a rent of £10,000 per annum on a new lease, to you or an incoming new tenant.
‘I have instructed a building surveyor to undertake an inspection and provide a schedule of dilapidations which will be served on you in due course.’