A second long-running business in Birmingham’s Brindleyplace has been refused a lease renewal amid claims the landlord could damage the long-term success of the district.
Spiritual health shop Zen is the latest tenant to be turned down by the British Airways Pension Fund after hair salon Umberto Giannini was told it too would have to leave.
Sisters Kate and Megan Chandler run the business which their mother Sylvia Chandler set up 15 years ago after they said she was persuaded to move there by the landlord’s managing agent, GVA Grimley.
Despite having more than 2,000 regular customers and passing trade of about 100 a day, a bid to remain another ten years was denied and the company has until August left at The Water’s Edge unit.
They claimed they were the last to know and even a local window cleaner was aware plans were afoot to “kick all the smaller people out”. The pair, who are from Moseley, said they have been told the spot will be used for a restaurant.
Kate said: “One of the excuses we were given for the decision was because the retail sector is so low but we’re thriving – last year was one of our best years.
“It’s taken us a long time to build the business up to what it is. GVA Grimley said it is looking to secure Brindleyplace for the next 15 years but we said we have not suffered, partly because we’ve been here so long. It’s all to do with money and the fact it can get more with a restaurant licence here.”
The 28-year-old said the business, which stays open until 10.30pm, is more than just a shop as it runs courses on subjects including crystal healing and astrology almost nightly, which attract up to 40 people.
She accused site bosses of contradicting themselves after Brindleyplace emailed out a statement following the decision to close Umberto Giannini.
“It was saying a mutually agreeable decision had been reached and that Brindleyplace would continue to promote its diversity. This just seems ridiculous,” she said.
“We bring a total mix of people into Brindleyplace and we wanted to stay.”
Megan, aged 22, said: “In a time of a recession we’ve done better in the last two years than ever. We’re something different.
“Birmingham really does lack a unique shopping experience.”
The business will move to its other branch in Moseley, which has been open ten years.
Birminghampost.net blogger Professor David Bailey, of Coventry University Business School, said the recession had highlighted the importance of diversity and warned against relying on restaurants and bars for trade.
“Certainly it would be a shame if we went backwards at Brindleyplace,” he said. “I can see from the landlord’s point of view they’re trying to maximise rents. It may well be they can get more rental yield if a big restaurant occupies that space than two smaller units. But from a broader point of view of the sustainability of the area and the place it’s important to have a diversity of offerings.”
A spokeswoman for Pizza Express, next door to Zen, said it would not be concerned about another restaurant.
Guy Thompson, from GVA Grimley, said: “The fund does not comment on individual tenancies.”