Shoe firm closes as owner fears the high street is on its uppers

David Millar 
Picture: Habibur Rahman (171041-53)
David Millar Picture: Habibur Rahman (171041-53)

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A FAMILY-RUN shoe business is closing – and the owner fears for the future of the high street.

Spencer and Penn in Portchester has begun its closing-down sale and owner David Millar said: ‘Bills are going up and sales are going down.

Spencer and Penn in Portchester  Picture: Habibur Rahman (171041-56)

Spencer and Penn in Portchester Picture: Habibur Rahman (171041-56)

‘It is just no longer sustainable.’

The business started in 1937 and has been trading in the building since just after the Second World War, catering to local residents’ feet for nearly 80 years.

David said: ‘I do feel sorry for the customers that have been loyal over the years.

‘Some customers have relied on us to have adaptations to their shoes as other local places won’t do this.’

The shop has four part-time staff including David’s daughter and his wife, Veslemoy Millar.

Veslemoy said: ‘It is sad but lately he has had fewer customers and before we get into money troubles we have chosen to close it down.

‘Of course it has been hard and it is very sad.’

David thinks independent shops have lost out to bigger brands, supermarkets and online shopping and blames the ‘fast fashion’ era.

He said: ‘At one time we had four cobblers in the workshop working six days a week, we were so busy. There is just me now.’

David added: ‘It is not worth repairing modern shoes as they can be purchased so cheaply from some outlets.’

Fareham Borough Council has recently revealed plans to regenerate Portchester and update the village including improvements to the precinct and adding more parking.

In the plans, Councillor Keith Evans wrote: ‘Change cannot be achieved overnight, but with involvement from the whole community – we can ensure Portchester Village Centre continues to offer the best facilities.’

Mr Millar said: ‘I don’t think the regeneration project will work.

‘It will give space for a couple more charity shops.

He added: ‘I know the council has to be seen as doing something but I don’t think it will make any difference.’

Cllr Shaun Cunningham said: ‘It is a shop that has been there for many years and it is extremely sad to see it close down.

‘I think this a nationwide problem that every high street shop faces as we are all guilty of buying online and it is affecting small independent shops.

‘However, I still believe Portchester has a future and I am looking forward to the development coming forward.’