A WELL-KNOWN shop for lovers of the great outdoors is closing after 50 years of business as its owner retires.

John’s Camping in London Road, Brighton, will close on Saturday.

Owner John Holden opened his business in Whitehawk 50 years ago before it moved to Lewes Road.

In 1970 it went to New England Street, Brighton, which became his base for 34 years.

Ten years ago he moved the shop to London Road.

Mr Holden, 77, said more than 1,000 people have expressed their sadness at his decision to retire, some “with tears rolling down their cheeks”.

He runs the business with his daughters Nicky, 50, who wants to follow a medical line of work and Jojo 43 who is ready to move on to something new.

His eldest daughter, Laura, 54, is a school teacher.

Mr Holden said: “I couldn’t do it without my daughters. We used to bring them in when they were babies.”

Brighton-born Mr Holden has no firm plans for his retirement but feels the time is right.

He said: “We have been going a long time. It feels good [to stop now] and we had a very good offer for the building.”

He has sold the freehold to the three-storey building and the new owner is understood to want to let the ground floor as a shop and possibly create flats above.

As he begins to hang up the camping gear, he says he is pleased to see the London Road area improving, having recently served as vice-chairman on a local committee.

He said: “London Road is coming up a bit now.

“I have been going to meetings for five years and there is a great improvement.”

Rev Philip Wells, chairman of the London Road Area Local Action Team, said: “John has been a trader here for decades.

“He has been a staunch and valued supporter of our community group since it was formed in late 2008.

“He has been one of the true characters of London Road, giving human warmth and value to the place.

“His support, wise words and good humour will be missed. We do wish him well in his retirement.”