THE owner of a bookshop fears he could be forced to close its doors after a hike in rent charges.
Robert Smith, from Adelphi Books in Southsea, said he would be devastated if after 31 years he had to shut.
The last review saw it increase by five per cent but this one is around 47 per cent.
The 61-year-old said he received a letter earlier this year informing him his rent was increasing from £5,250 a year to £7,750.
This followed a visit to evaluate the shop.
But Mr Smith said the increase was too much and he would struggle to pay it.
‘Normally there’s a review every three years on how much rent I pay,’ he said.
‘When I received the letter saying it had gone up by £2,500 I was in shock.
‘I rang them to say I couldn’t afford that much and offered them a new price.’
That new price was not accepted so Mr Smith is still negotiating his annual rent amount.
But he said if it did not reduce dramatically from the original demand, he would be forced to close the store on Albert Road.
Mr Smith added: ‘When you look at previous rent increases, this year’s is really high.
‘The last review saw it increase by five per cent but this one is around 47 per cent.
‘How can they expect anyone to afford that?
‘They want me to make them offers which I have been doing but they don’t seem to be the right amount.’
Mr Smith has the backing of his customers who have written letters and offered to start a petition calling for the rent to be reduced.
They have also been in touch with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan to see if he can help.
Mr Smith hopes he can come to an agreement soon as the uncertainty is causing him stress.
‘I have no idea what is going to happen,’ he said.
‘If I do need to close then I need time to sort out a new income.
‘And what will happen to all the stock? That will need to be sorted too with clearance sales etc.
‘I am lucky that my customers have been really supportive.
‘I do have my regulars who would be sad to see me go, but I might not have a choice.
‘I think it is awful how companies can increase rents so much.
‘Albert Road is full of independent shops which gives it character and they shouldn’t be forced to close.’
As previously reported in The News, a number of pubs in the Albert Road area have closed due to rent increases.