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London rents blamed for Microzine closure

Microzine owner Chris Lee has slammed the cost of retailing in London for small businesses after he was forced to close his directional boutique in the capital’s Carnaby Street area.
The store, which had traded for less than 12 months, was on the first floor of Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street.

It stocked quirky and exclusive pieces from J Lindeberg, Adidas, Canada Goose, Tretorn, Victorinox and Original Penguin, plus furniture and books.
Lee said the combination of rents and rates meant the business was unable to generate the turnover necessary to make the location viable.
The Kingly Court shop was Lee’s second attempt to make the format work in London. He originally launched the Microzine concept in a unit he owned in Islington in north London, but he closed it when he sold the property in 2005.

Lee said: “I wanted to give it another go in London. But I just don’t think an indie can survive in London any more. Staffing costs are tens of thousands of pounds a year and then you add the service charges. A small unit in a prime site could cost up to £500,000 a year. You have to turn over a few million for it to work.”

Kingly Court property manager Shelley Webb said: “Kingly Court rents are extremely competitive, starting at £10,000 per annum with very flexible lease lengths. Many smaller retailers including Super Superficial and Dahlia have been a great success.”

Microzine’s closure comes hot on the heels of the demise of central London footwear indie Foot Patrol (Drapers, March 22), which cited rising rents as a major factor in its closure.

Lee also has a Microzine shop in Bold Street in Liverpool. He plans to set up a body to bring together indies and landlords to help market the Bold Street and Ropewalks area, ahead of the opening of shopping centre Liverpool One next month.

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