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 requested to pay a massive hike in his rent.
As previously reported last May, Robert, who has owned the shop for 31 years, said the proposed increase came out of the blue demanding £7,750 a year – despite currently paying £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 rents 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.’