Two businessmen have bought the freehold of Marlborough's only bookshop in order to keep it running.
Robert Hiscox, former deputy chairman of Lloyd's of London and honorary president of Hiscox Insurance, and Brian Kingham, founder and group executive chairman of Reliance Securities Group, have bought the freehold of The White Horse Bookshop on Marlborough High Street, in Wiltshire, following its closure in March.
The shop will now reopen later in April, with Angus Maclennan, a former Waterstones manager, taking over the running of the store and its refurbishment, which will see it almost double in size with a second floor of books.
Hiscox said: "No town is worth its salt without a thriving bookshop, yet it is one of the toughest of retail trades to be in. By buying the shop and employing Angus we have given it a future, but ultimately its success lies in the hands of the reading public of Marlborough. With their support, the White Horse Bookshop should be a thriving literary and arts hub at the heart of the community.”
Marlborough hosts a literary and jazz festival each year, and the shop itself has previously run art courses.
Maclennan said: "My aim is to make the White Horse Bookshop one of the best independent bookshops in all the country: with the support of the town there is absolutely no reason why this cannot be achieved. This is an incredibly philanthropic thing that Robert and Brian have done – bookshops need their saviours as even Waterstones, with its oligarch owner, is aware. But this bookshop can be and will be a thriving business."
The businessman signed the lease after former owner, Michael Pooley, decided to move on after running the shop since 1973.
Kingham said the decision to buy the shop was "drawing a line in the sand" against the closure of more independent businesses. He said: "This is a grave time for independent bookshops. Competition first from supermarkets and the Internet, then from new technologies and a stuggling economy have decimated their number – there are now fewer than 1000 in the UK. We are drawing a line in the sand in Marlborough. Robert, Angus and I are hugely excited by the challenges and opportunities ahead - how could Marlborough host a serious literary festival without a proper bookshop to support it – and working on the common cause of promoting wonderful, stimulating, life-enhancing entertainment."