Actor Sir Derek Jacobi has spoken out against the imminent closure of the Samuel French Theatre Bookshop, which is to become online-only following a “crippling” hike in rent by its landlord.
The specialist theatre bookshop based in London’s Fitzroy Street is due to close in mid-April due to a 200% hike in rent.
Jacobi, who has appeared in films including "Gladiator" and "The King's Speech" told the Camden New Journal that the shop is "quite unique [and] it will be dreadful to lose it".
“Over the course of my career I have often been there and found it an incredible resource when you are looking for plays, both modern and almost extinct ones", Jacobi said. "They are always very helpful – as a theatrical resource, it is second to none. London theatre is possibly the best in the world and French’s serves it. There is a clear link between the support French’s gives to the theatre industry, and London’s tourist trade. It must be saved, for the good of all.”
Meanwhile, a petition to save the bookshop has reached 4,828 signatures. However, the petition incorrectly urges Camden Council to reverse the rent increases, but the council is not the landlord of the building and is not responsible for the hike in rent. The site is owned by the Linton Group, a family-run property firm.
In a statement, the Linton Group said: “We are disappointed that Samuel French has decided to close the bookshop on 52 Fitzroy Street after its longstanding business history. Linton Group always support their tenants’ businesses to the best of their abilities, as it is important to Linton to promote independent and small business for which central London property prices can prove out of reach. However it is important that the group takes into consideration changing market conditions which has led to a necessary review of the rent at 52 Fitzroy Street.”
It added: “We wish Samuel French well in their new endeavours and hope the new tenants will bring a fresh dimension to the street.”
The UK arm of the Samuel French business was founded by Thomas Hailes Lacy in 1830 and a bookshop has existed on various sites around London since that time, moving to its present location in Fitzroy Street in 1983.