THE closure of an aquatics shop in Poole’s Dolphin Shopping Centre will leave half the units on the first floor Gallery section unoccupied.

Pro Aquatics is due to shut on March 10, with the owner blaming high rents and business rates.

Kevin Hillman, who runs the specialist tropical fish and equipment supplier with his wife Wendy, said: “It’s expensive to be here and it’s too quiet.

“It’s a combination of factors: internet purchasing, the recession, high rents and high rates. It all adds up so it’s not viable to be in a centre like this. All the landlords are interested in is high rents.

“They bend over backwards to help companies like Beales, Marks & Spencer and Next.

“They should do all these units at half the rent to fill them. We would love for someone to buy this and carry it on. Unfortunately, the prices restrict that sort of thing.”

Mr Hillman, who has been working in aquatics for the last 30 years, used to run a tropical fish centre in Wallisdown and has been operating in the Dolphin Shopping Centre for the last five years.

“We hope we might be moving again, but it will be outside where the overheads are lower. I would like to thank all our loyal customers. They have been wonderful.”

Among the businesses to disappear from the Gallery area in recent years have been a café, a clothes shop, a hairdresser, a make-up stall, a phone shop, a fabric shop, and most recently Jessop’s camera shop.

After Pro Aquatics closes, only Bath Travel, JS Jeweller, Discount Health Store and Lumin-Essence will be left on that side of the Gallery.

The other side has Sew Quick, Forest Holme’s Secret Wardrobe charity shop, Harrold Opticians and Jacquelines.

The remaining units on the first floor of the centre are occupied by Beales, Wilkinson’s and Clipper Restaurant.

John Grinnell, centre manager at the Dolphin shopping centre, said: “With the transition of the sale of the Dolphin Shopping Centre between Wereldhave and new owner Legal and General Property, we will be working hard to ensure that that all units within the centre are filled.

“As expected in transition periods such as this, some tenants of the centre will take the opportunity to shut or move the business to another location.

“We do sympathise with retailers during the current climate and have done all we can do to help.

“There are exciting plans ahead for the Dolphin Shopping Centre and this is the start of a strategy to introduce more independent stores and well-known brands into the centre.”