A Horsham town centre landmark that opened 20 years ago is being forced to close at the end of January.
The Horsham Christian Centre, the bookshop and cafe located at the top of the Causeway, has been operating at a loss in recent years.
Last week, the Centre’s trustees sent a message to the churches of Horsham confirming its closure.
It read: “It is with a very heavy heart that the trustees of Horsham Christian Centre and directors of the trading company, known as Crown Books and The Café @ The Centre, announce that all attempts to find a lasting solution to keep The Centre open have failed and a closure is planned for 31st January 2014.”
Doug Fletcher, the manager at the store, said people are reading less than they used to, and competition in the town centre affected cafe sales.
He said: “Our own research has shown that people are not reading as much as they used to and many of those who are, read electronic books or order their books online; this has resulted in a steady decline of sales in the bookshop.
“The increased competition in the town has adversely affected our cafe sales and, whilst it is often busy, there are significant quiet periods.
“This is a very sad time for everybody concerned with the Centre.”
The Centre opened in 1994, and in the first fifteen years of its life it also supported both Oasis Crisis Pregnancy Advice Service and the Horsham Debt Advice Service.
Mr Fletcher added: “The cafe is regularly used by people with particular needs and there are very few other places in Horsham where those needs will be met; with Christian bookshops closing around the country, the loss of yet another one will make the availability of Christian resources – gifts, cards, books, music – even more difficult.
“It is hoped that a way will be found to continue the ministry of the Centre and this is being actively explored at the moment.”
In October of last year, the County Times revealed that volunteers at the Centre were hoping to raise £43,000 for an ambitious plan to redevelop the building.