A POPULAR newsagent on High Street in Oxford will be closing its doors for the final time after 80 years.

Tim Gresswell, owner of Tim’s Newsagent and Off Licence, said he is ‘devastated’ to shut the shop but has been left with no choice. 

He revealed a ‘lack of support from his landlord’, Lincoln College, and slow business because of the pandemic has left him with a very small profit margin, so much so he would have been in £30,000 debt without Government grants. 

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Oxford Mail: The shop will close its doors for the final time in September. Picture: Ed Nix The shop will close its doors for the final time in September. Picture: Ed Nix

When Mr Gresswell took over the shop it had already been a firm fixture in the city for half a century, after Gladys Annett started a business in it 1939.

He said: “I am devastated. I have been in business 40 years, it is like my family.

“Most people in Oxford, if you just walk down the street say ‘oh, do you know Tim’s?’ they will know it.”

In the year before the pandemic, Mr Gresswell had a net profit of £64,078.

In 2021, his net profit fell to £15,613.

He insists the only reason that he is not in debt is because of a £13,500 Government grant, a rates reduction of £9,000 and staff costs reduction of £23,801. 

Without this he would have been in a £30k loss.

Oxford Mail: The outside of Tim's on High Street in January 2021. Picture: Google Maps The outside of Tim's on High Street in January 2021. Picture: Google Maps

He said he has not had ‘one single penny’ of support from Lincoln College, who still required his £38k rent on time.

The landlord’s agent, Cluttons, allegedly told Mr Gresswell he is one of the best tenants. Mr Gresswell thinks that this is why negotiating his lease was ‘dragged out’ for 15 months.

The 66-year old explained: “The agents do not want to talk, they just want to email and you cannot negotiate by just doing emails. On one occasion it took them three months to reply to an email and they said ‘we purposefully held it back’.

“I think they purposefully tried to drag this out on the basis that I am still paying my rent, so they are not worried.

Oxford Mail: Tim Gresswell has run the shop since 1989. Picture: Ed Nix Tim Gresswell has run the shop since 1989. Picture: Ed Nix

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“There was a rent review last year but they did not reply to my email, so I could not do anything.

“It is very sad and I am really angry because it should not have happened.”. 

He explained that the only time he has had face-to-face interaction was when he triggered the break clause and the bursar of Lincoln College came to speak to him.

*UPDATE* Comment from Cluttons. 

A spokesperson from Cluttons said: "Cluttons has been working with Mr Gresswell on behalf of their client to establish a fair deal so that Tim's Newsagents could remain open.  Mr Gresswell made it clear to Cluttons that in fact he wanted to sell the business and reduce his rent in order to make it a more attractive purchase. 

"It is simply untrue that Cluttons have been difficult to deal with or contact as we been in constant contact in our role between the landlord and tenant and have made several concessionary offers to lower his rent on the basis that the store would remain open but on the basis that he remained the proprietor of the business i.e, that he could not sell on the business at the reduced rent. 

"We (the landlord and Cluttons) felt that this was the fairest way to support a tenant in need and keep the business open. On one occasion an offer was to drop the rent by almost 1/3 but this was not acceptable to Mr Gresswell who remained resolute that he wanted to sell the business.

"As such he decided to break his lease when the option came around and vacate the property in September 2022. We subsequently offered another new 5 year lease at a reduced rent and he responded that he'd accept the offer if the rent was reduced further but this was not viable for our landlord, having already offered several concessions. At this point Mr Gresswell decided to withdraw and stated that "he did not wish to receive any further communications from Cluttons over this matter” – this e-mail being copied to the landlord.

"At all points Mr Gresswell has had direct contact with Cluttons and we have done our best to support him but he was adamant he wanted to sell the business on, rather than stay open on a much reduced rent."

The Oxford Mail approached Lincoln College which failed to repond. 


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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