A NATIONAL chain of pet shops with a store in the heart of Knutsford has said it will close in two weeks after failing to agree an extension to its lease with a town landlord.

Pets at Home has announced that its store on Canute Place will close on Saturday, June 14.

The company said the decision had been taken after bosses were unable to agree ‘satisfactory terms’ on a new lease with landlord, Monckton Properties.

The store opened its doors in Knutsford for the first time in 2003 and employees from the store will be offered alternative roles at nearby Pets at Home stores, including those in Northwich and Altrincham.

Jason Hunter, area manager for Pets at Home, said: “The decision was certainly not made lightly but the new terms proposed by the landlord at the end of the current lease were not acceptable and have made it impossible for us to continue trading in the property.

“It is therefore with regret that we have to close the Knutsford store next month and would ask our loyal customers to continue to shop with us in nearby stores.”

Monckton Properties told the Guardian it was sorry to see Pets at Home leave the town but added four new businesses were set to move into the town in the near future, including a new restaurant on King Street.

A spokesman for Monckton Properties Ltd said: “We are extremely heartened by the extremely strong interest already expressed in the town and Canute Place by occupiers ideally suited to Knutsford.

“We are always sorry to lose any tenant and are especially pleased that Pets at Home are able to offer both staff and customers to a number of local shops.

"We would add Pets at Home demanded a rent reduction over five years on a 'take-it-or-leave it' basis, which unfortunately left no opportunity to agree a renewal with them.

"Monckton Properties Ltd and the Tatton Estate are delighted to see Knutsford and Cheshire prosper after the difficult times of recent years and look forward to helping old and new businesses here go from strength to strength.”

The town will not be left without a specialist pet store as the indoor market on Silk Mill Street is home to one.

But a fellow business owner in the town, who did not wish to be named, told the Guardian smaller independent stores did not stand much chance if a national chain could not agree new leases.

“It is going to have such an impact on the other businesses in the area and I know many are fearful that there is some sort of agenda,” she said.

“Everybody is in shock that they have decided to leave.

“Moves like this will just drive people away from shopping in the town.”

Pets at Home said it would offer customers at the Knutsford store a voucher for 20 per cent off their next purchase at other nearby stores in Northwich, Baguley, Stockport and Altrincham until July 31.

Vouchers will be available from Thursday, May 29 until the store closes.

What do you think about Pets at Home moving out of the town centre? Email yourviews@guardiangrp.co.uk