THE managing director of an independent shop which is closing down this month, has put some of the blame on the landlords of the shopping centre in which it operates.

Jeremy Berg took the difficult decision to close Fabric Land in Festival Place having been in the town for 25 years.

The shop will shut its doors for good on Saturday, July 13, with Jeremy criticising Festival Place for failing to support independent businesses during tough trading times.

He said: “The greatest threat to retail is the internet. While Fabric Land has a gigantic internet site the problem is that it opens up retail to everyone, that’s the first problem.

"The second problem is because of Brexit, there’s uncertainty within business. That translates into lower turnover. Our turnover is back down where it was in 2010.”

Mr Berg, whose family-run business operates nine other shops, said the lease in Basingstoke was coming up for renewal, and that Festival Place expected him to sign up to a 10-year lease, which is a risk he is not prepared to take when the shop is making a loss.

He said: “If I could pay the kind of expenses I was paying in 2010 the business becomes viable. But the rent is much too high. We also have a service charge which they play about with so that they get the maximum amount according to expenses it costs to run the centre.

"The service charge has gone up. The turnover is down and the expenses are up and the service charge is up. And the landlord wants me to commit for extended period. It doesn’t make sense. I’m not prepared to take that risk.”

He added: “I think Festival Place could do more. I think every landlord in the country could do more. At the moment retail is being allowed to die. The majority of people know the reason it’s because the rents and rates and service charge is too high. When the high street is gone, it’s gone.”

Mr Berg said that four of the staff at the Basingstoke shop were offered employment at other Fabric Land locations, resulting in just one redundancy.

“I’m very sad but I have a duty to the company. We employ 90 people across the company. If I make the wrong decision then we end up in a situation that all the other high streets have,” he said, adding: “Unfortunately the Basingstoke store the maths doesn’t stack up.”

Festival Place has been contacted for comment.