LANDLORDS cannot be held solely responsible for the changing face of Marlow’s retail sector, according to the head of a leading business group in the town.

Tim Graham, chairman of Marlow’s Chamber of Commerce, said he understands the position of landlords such as Sorbon Estates, part of the Shanly Group, whose actions are driven by market forces.

Mr Graham was responding to criticism of the major commercial retail player after it announced a cost-price pop-up shop scheme to boost trade on Marlow’s ailing Spittal Street.

Free Press readers slammed the move as ‘hypocritical’ and claimed the firm were partly responsible for the downturn in the first place.

And the Marlow-based solicitor has welcomed the introduction of the which he says may be good for business in the long term.

He said: "You can’t wholly blame the landlords, whoever they may be, if they are advised by commercial agents that they can get a certain amount, why would they go out of their way to help people? Unfortunately it’s a commercial decision.

"Most business people are optimistic and if they think they can keep the payments up, they will take the leases on. But often the plan doesn’t work and they get in trouble.

"As far as pop-up shops go, I think it is a good idea. Anything which can increase occupancy must be a good thing. It is exciting for Marlow to have new businesses, and will attract more visitors and ultimately more business."

However, Mr Graham said he does worry about the rapid turnover of shops in the town centre.

And he questioned whether any landlord can make judgements on the best retail mix for the town based on an ever-changing roster of shops and businesses.