Southsea shop owner complains ofÂ '˜aggressive' and '˜unreasonable' treatmentÂ over rent hike
A BOOKSHOP owner says his business is still at risk of closing despite a groundswell of support from customers.
Robert Smith, who runs Adelphi Books in Albert Road, Southsea, has revealed he has been treated '˜aggressively' and '˜unreasonably' after being requestedÂ to pay a massive hike inÂ his rent.
As previously reported last May, Robert, who has owned the shop for 31 years, said the proposed increase cameÂ out of the blue demanding Â£7,750 a year '“ despite currently paying Â£5,250.
The 61-year-old has been rallying support from customers and has a petition signed by over 100 people who want to see Adelphi Books stay open.
Speaking of the hike, Robert said: '˜It's a huge increase for me. The increase is more than I can cope with.
'˜My lease finishes in just over a year. I don't want to breach it but I have been treated so aggressively and unreasonably I don't know what to do.
'˜I'm looking at other places but that would mean breaching my lease and moving, which would be a lot of upheaval.'
Robert told The News he still has hope of striking a deal with the landlords, but said they turned down an offer he made.
He said the only explanation he was given by the landlords for the rise was '˜due to market forces'.
He continued: '˜I've made them a more reasonable offer but they are still offering more than I can handle. But why not give it a chance?
'˜I was hoping to run the shop until I retire. If they had accepted a compromise then I could have wound the business down in an orderly fashion.
'˜It has caused a lot of stress for me and my customers. I've started a petition which shows good support for the shop. A lot of people don't want it to go.'
Robert believes other businesses are being ruined by rent hikes.
'˜It's already been happening quite a lot (shops closing),' he said. '˜Shops are being asked to pay higher rentsÂ all the time and are closing because they can't afford them.
'˜At this rate the streets will lose all second hand shops apart from those who own their own premises.'