Store closures: I only keep my shop going as act of love… | Life | Life & Style

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With a till that still goes “ding” when the keys are pressed, brass-edged counters and mahogany cabinets, it is loved by loyal customers who travel long distances to find traditional linen and comfortable bras and corsets.

But with a local car park being taken over by a new Premier Inn and road- works over-running by six months to total more than a year, trade has dropped and the store is running at a loss.

Owner Ann Clough said: “I keep it going almost as a hobby, as well as keeping my grandad’s legacy going.”

Grandfather Ernest opened the ladies’ outfitters in 1901, running it until his death in 1940 when his daughter Susan took charge.

Ann, 85, who succeeded her mother, is assisted by full- timer Sue, who has 30 years’ service and part-timer Joan, with 20 years.

Sadly none of the younger generation want to take on the business from Ann.

She said: “I have to pay early £ 7,500 a year in business rate on top of rising utility bills and insurance after vandalism that cost £1,000 last year.”

She added: “I do think the Government should give independent traders a fair go by reducing business rates and keeping utility firms in check.”

Her plea came as Tesco boss Dave Lewis blamed problems on the high street on rising business rates.

House of Fraser plans to close 31 stores, M&S 100, while Poundworld is seeking investment to avoid joining Toys R Us and Marlins in administration.

DIY chain Homebase has been sold for just £1.

Mr Lewis called for a fundamental reform of the “archaic” rates system.

He said: “You need a level playing field… between an online digital world and a traditional retail store base model.”

If you are worried about the high street’s future write to Jon Coates, Sunday Express, Northern & Shell Building, 10 Lower Thames Street,London EC3R 6EN or email jon.coates@express.co.uk



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