London's longest-established theatre bookshop Samuel French, currently located in the Fitzrovia area of central London near Tottenham Court Road, is to shutter in April, after a continuous run of 187 years. It has been in its present premises since 1983.
The company also operates as a major theatrical publisher and licensing house on both sides of the Atlantic. Those activities will continue, as will its bookselling operation, but that will be via its online portal only.
In an interview with U.K. trade paper The Stage, Managing Director Douglas Schatz attributed the bookshop closure to an "unsustainable rental increase," stating that these had increased by about 200–300 percent over the last five years.
He also told The Stage, "It’s the way the market, the landscape of retail and bookselling in particular, is going. In the last few years it’s changed immeasurably, with online retailing and ebooks. There has been a pressure on traditional bookshops and, at the same time, property costs in London have continued to rise, alongside rates and rents. It drives small, independent business out.”
The company will relocate its offices to the company’s offices new premises near Euston, where it plans to continue to host customer-focused events, with enough space to host about 50 people. Shatz commented, "We want to stay in touch with customers as there is nothing like face to face."