Beales to close high street branch by the end of April
PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:13 25 January 2019
A popular department store is set to close, leaving a "major site" prime for redevelopment in Lowestoft.
Beales department store, in London Road North, is set to close its doors by the end of April.
Despite the move, the boss of its new owners has reaffirmed its commitment to the town.
With a closing down sale now under way, Tony Brown, chief executive for Bournemouth-based Beales, said no jobs would be lost.
The closure of the current store and renovations to the newly refurbished premises at Palmers is likely to be completed “by the end of April”.
It comes after Palmers in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft became part of the Beales group in November – as the last two branches of the historic East Anglian department store were sold.
At the time, Mr Brown said the deal was the best way to cement the survival of the two stores.
As the closing down sale began in Lowestoft on Thursday, January 24, Mr Brown said: “The site is closing down.
“We have come to an agreement with the landlord to exit the site and move into the existing Palmers store.
“We have been looking at the redevelopment of the Lowestoft store and with the (Palmers takeover) agreement in place we would always probably move at some time, and so we have now come to this agreement with the landlord, which allows the landlord to redevelop the site.
“The Palmers store is better suited for a department store and is more in the heart of the town.”
Putting new product lines and offers into the Palmers store, customers can expect to see extended menswear and womenswear sections in the future.
Mr Brown added: “We have a number of stores in the area – Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Beccles, Diss – no-one needs to worry about their jobs. All of the staff at the store will move and no one will lose their job.
“We will be finishing the closing down sale and refurbishment of the other store by the end of April – so for our customers in Lowestoft we will still be at the heart of the town.
“We like Lowestoft, we are big supporters of East Anglia as a whole with 12 stores in the region and we are looking forward to the new offer – I think we can serve the customers better now.”
Of the move, Lowestoft Vision board member Danny Steel said: “It has always been a major site in the town centre and it is a great pity it is closing.”
The closure of Beales department store signals another significant change to the face of the high street.
Former shops on the substantial stretch that houses Beales have included chemists, opticians, a cycle company, Lowestoft Water and Gas and the Victoria Arcade.
But many of the buildings were destroyed during the Second World War, leading to the entire block being rebuilt in the 1960s.
The store would eventually be occupied by the Co-op – with furnishings, mens and womenswear, footwear, hardware and much more being offered over the years.
In 2011 the Anglia Co-operative Society sold 19 of the Society’s 23 Westgate department stores – including the Lowestoft and Beccles stores – to Bournemouth-based JE Beale plc as part of a £7.5m deal.
Now it looks set to have another, new lease of life with a potential redevelopment in the future.
Janet Howlett, from Lowestoft, said: “I think it is better because it is moving in with the Palmers – it will obviously affect the high street but the high street is already dying.
“I won’t come up to this end of town any more. I want them to open a Primark – I don’t shop there but I know the younger people do.”
Matthew Cook, of Lowestoft, said: “I think it is good it is closing. I don’t shop there – maybe the older people do.
“They should replace it with something better like a JD or something.”
Hayden Buckingham, from Lowestoft, added: “The size of the shop is huge, I have shopped there, and so has my mum but I would prefer if a Primark was put in.”
Sam Bryant, of Lowestoft, said: “There is not much you can do about it closing down.
“The high street is dying and the rent here would be expensive as well.”