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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Maggie Rosen

Patrick Sandeman has hit out after spiralling rents have forced Lea and Sandeman to close its Belsize Park branch in London. We knew all along we would be subject to a rent review [on a five-year lease],' said Sandeman. We didn't know just how much it would be.' Lea and Sandeman was paying 26,000 a year, but the landlord, Freshwater Property Management, wanted 45,500. It settled at 42,500, but Sandeman felt this figure was too high. While the lease has been sold to Oddbins, Sandeman believes that independent shops in general are victims of the coffee-chain wars and short-term thinking landlords: The coffee shops are going for world domination,' he said. They are willing to pay whatever the landlord asks just to get a spot on the high street. And landlords don't look at tenants in terms of whether they are going to be there a long time or add something to the area.' The Belsize Park shop, which was run by Lea and Sandeman for three years, was previously occupied by Swig, now a mail-order wine company. Grog Blossom, the area's only other quality independent wine shop, closed in 2002. Lea and Sandeman's other three shops, in Notting Hill, Barnes and Fulham, remain open.