Tony Blair was not the only one announcing his retirement this week.

After 56 years at the helm, the owner of Lyons Textiles in Blatchington Road, Hove, is finally pulling the curtains on his business for a "well-deserved rest".

Melvyn Lyons, 63, began working in his father's shop when he left school in 1960 and has worked there ever since, eventually taking over the firm in 1989.

The shop, a cornucopia of curtains and window blinds and one of the longestestablished independent shops in Hove, will close in four weeks.

It marks the end of 65 years of Lyons Textiles, which first opened its doors in 1952, and Melvyn said: "It will be a real wrench to let it go."

Working in the same shop for more than half a century would be enough to drive some people around the bend, but Melvyn has enjoyed his career.

"There have been times when I have thought to myself, what am I doing?' but looking back it's fair to say I haven't regretted a single minute."

Melvyn said he had seen huge changes to shopping patterns in recent years and admitted it was getting more and more difficult to turn a profit.

"Everything is gradually being driven out of town. That's where the large multiples are setting up now and it is sucking people away from the city centres.

"But we have always had loyal customers because we are specialists. Textiles is all I know. You go to these big out-oftown stores and the managers are moved around from one place to the other. One day they'll be in textiles, the next in shoes."

Although Brighton and Hove has a thriving independent retail sector - more than 1,500 at the last count - Melvyn reckons things will only get harder.

"The biggest problem is getting into Brighton and then parking.

"You can't go down Western Road, and the seafront is always heavily congested.

"And it has to be said the traffic wardens are very efficient. I have a loading bay outside my shop but they pounce on my customers if they park their cars there."

Melyvn's wife Judi is also retiring from her teaching post at Shoreham College.

He said: "We haven't got anything planned really. Just a well-earned rest."