The Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road store is set to close after 19 years on London’s world-famous bookselling street.
The well-loved shop has been blighted by falling footfall on the road due to the Crossrail development, which has obstructed customers’ access from the busy Oxford Street for the past three years. The shop will relocate elsewhere in London; the company is currently looking for an alternative site.
David Prescott, c.e.o. of Blackwell’s, said: “We are reaching the end of our lease in April 2015 and the Crossrail development isn’t going to be completed until 2018. Therefore we have decided to relocate to another venue in London.”
Foyles’ Charing Cross Road branch has also complained that sales and footfall have been hit by the works in the area surrounding the development, which has been in progress since 2009.
Steve Orchard, manager of Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road store, said: “The biggest problem has been the Crossrail development. We are having to pay the same amount of rent for far fewer people coming down the street and it is not balancing out. That is why we are looking to move to a different area in London.
“It is a real shame we are having to move, but we used to get a real succession of people coming down from Oxford Street that we just don’t get anymore.” Orchard added: “Of course rent is high in this area of London and how people are buying books is changing, and that’s having an impact.”
While Foyles is building a new flagship store on the road, due to open at the beginning of June, a number of second-hand and antiquarian bookshops on the capital’s iconic bookselling street have closed in the past few years—including Murder One bookshop on Charing Cross Road.
Walter Kraut, manager of Quinto Books, which has been based on the street since the early 1980s, said: “There are four good bookshops on our block that have been there for a long time, but there used to be more than that until around five or six years ago. The rent prices certainly had something to do with it—they became more competitive—but trade has been slower in the past few years as retail has suffered generally in the bad economy.”
However, Kraut said he didn’t think Charing Cross Road was losing its status as a famous bookselling destination. “Trade is OK at the moment and I have a feeling actually that it is picking up a bit.
“On the first Tuesday of every month we change all our stock here and we always have a queue outside the door of people waiting to see what they can pick up on that day. It is quite exciting. I feel like Charing Cross Road has still retained its reputation as a bookselling destination.”
The £18.4bn Crossrail project will have 40 stations, bringing 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London, linking key employment, leisure and business districts such as Heathrow, the West End, the City and Docklands.