Coffee shop workers have been left stunned after their business was given just over a week’s notice to quit Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange shopping centre after ten years.
Five people will be left jobless after mall landlords terminated the lease of Coffee Central - near Primark and TJ Hughes.
The business was started a decade ago by Necita Pounder and has been run by her daughter Louise Akram since February this year.
Louise, who is expecting her fourth child, was shocked to return home from a half-term break last week to find a solicitors letter waiting giving her just until Tuesday to move out.
She said: “Basically, the letter said ‘you have got until November 7 to leave the premises in an orderly fashion’.
“At first I thought it was a mistake. I rang up and was told it was not and the landlord has decided to give our lease to somebody else.”
Louise said they were not given the chance to negotiate staying and the news came completely out of the blue.
She added: “Myself and four staff have been left without a job and we are left without a business right before Christmas.
“One of the girls has just got a mortgage and is getting married next year.
“It is not like it is a new place, it has been there for ten years.
“We have been telling our customers and they are devastated.
“It is so homely, everyone knows each other.
“It has been absolutely awful. I think we have made that part of the centre better.
“I don’t understand why they would want to get rid of us.”
The solicitors’ letter sent to Louise on behalf of Middleton Grange owners Mars Pension Trustees Limited was dated October 25.
It said the coffee shop’s lease includes a clause that allows it to be terminated by written notice at any time.
It added: “As agents for and on behalf of our client, we hereby terminate the Tenancy at Will with immediate effect.
“Notwithstanding the termination of the Tenancy at Will, our client agrees not to enforce its rights of possession until November 7 2017 to enable you to vacate the premises and remove your belongings in an orderly fashion.”
A spokesman for Middleton Grange shopping centre said they were unable to comment on the matter.