Beales to close after Christmas
PUBLISHED: 09:40 04 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:28 04 August 2016
Beales in Saffron Walden will close its doors to customers in the new year after the department store failed to reach a new agreement over its rent in the Market Square.
It is believed the closure will see around 30 staff lose their jobs and Stuart Lyons, chairman of Beales, said he was “very disappointed” to have to shut the store.
In March, it was announced the shop was to get a 10-month stay of execution after a reduced rental agreement had been struck with the store’s Co-op landlord.
But a further deal could not be reached beyond that and the chairman said the store could no longer operate profitably in the new year.
The Beales Department Store Group, which currently has 29 branches around the country, has said other stores will close but would not confirm how many or where.
Mr Lyons said: “We are very disappointed that we have to close the Beales store in Saffron Walden.
“Our team has worked very hard over the past year to introduce new ranges of merchandise and to build sales. We have received marvellous support from the community.
“Our landlords at the Central England Co-operative Society have tried to be as helpful as they can, but unfortunately it has not proved possible to agree terms which meet the requirements of both sides.
“As a result, we would no longer be able to trade profitably in the new year, when our current arrangement comes to an end.
“Therefore we have to announce, with very great regret, that the store is likely to close after Christmas. I would like to thank all our staff for their loyalty and hard work during this challenging period.”
Wendy Howell, Saffron Walden Town Team member and Design Essentials owner, said: “It’s really disappointing to lose a store like Beales and to see such a big unit like that become empty.
“You’ve already got the scaffolding at the town hall and this will not help bring people into the town. Aesthetically, having empty shops never looks good.
“It’s a tough market, and footfall is down, not just in Saffron Walden, but around the country. High Street sales are down and internet sales are up, and people are finding less reason to come into town centres.
“As a town team, we have tried to find ways to encourage people to come into town, by promoting the many attractions that Saffron Walden has to offer.”