The major of a mid-Norfolk market town has described the closure of its WHSmith Local as a "great loss". The high street franchise in Dereham recently announced it would be closing its doors for good. The business had stopped trading last Thursday 31 May 2018 after experiencing difficult conditions since opening in November 2017. The franchise was owned and operated by the Stow family who moved to Norfolk from Kent to open the store.
Dereham mayor Hilary Bushell said although a closure had been "on the cards", it had been a pleasure to meet the family and wished them success for the future. "Obviously I'm very sorry they have had to close," she said. "We hoped that they would be able to be successful. I think they were quite expensive - as WHSmiths are - and WHSmiths in the whole country are having problems. They are a lovely family and its a great loss to the town. Its just unfortunate where they are situated which perhaps wasn't the best place with Wilko so close by. I'm very sad that they have finally had to close and leave."
The closure came as research revealed nearly one in 20 stores in Norfolk are predicted to close in the next four years, prompting fears of a high street crisis. The retailer was also named the country's least preferred high street store last month after a survey by Which? named the chain as consumers' least preferred outlet of 100 large retailers.
In April owner Phil Stow described the prospect of closure as "heartbreaking" but warned that unless residents started using it they would be gone within six weeks. The shop had been open for less than a year and the Stow family, who worked full time at the store, sold their home in Kent to make the move to Norfolk ahead of the venture. Mr Stow worked alongside his wife Maria and their sons Chris and James.
Tony Harrison, insolvency practitioner at McTear Williams & Wood Limited said: "The partners have invested heavily in the business and had ambitious plans but in the end were unable to generate sufficient sales and decided to call it a day."
5 June 2018