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'It is sad it has come to this': Another family-run business to close its doors

PUBLISHED: 19:57 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 19:57 10 April 2019

Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark Boggis

Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark Boggis

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A prestigious family-run business which has been based in a town for a century is set to close its doors in the next few weeks.

After trading in Lowestoft for about 100 years, a closing down sale is now on at Holgates menswear.

With retirement looming for the present owners of the shop on London Road North, they admitted it was “sad times for everyone.”

Mr Pettit at Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark BoggisMr Pettit at Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark Boggis

The present owners Carol and Martin Pettit have run the town centre shop for the past 23 years together with their son William and daughter Elizabeth.

Before this it was owned by Len Stolliday, who had the business for about 30 years. Prior to that Holgates survived a Luftwaffe bombing raid in February 1941 that flattened Clarendon Stores next door.

Holgates in Lowestoft, during the1960s. Pictures: Mark BoggisHolgates in Lowestoft, during the1960s. Pictures: Mark Boggis

The Holgate family used to run the shop “further up” in the High Street, before moving to the existing premises.

Mr Petitt said: “Holgates menswear has traded in Lowestoft for about 100 years and most men in the town have shopped at the store at some time during their lives.

Holgates in Lowestoft, during the Second World War - even Hitler could not stop the business trading as a Luftwaffe had flattened Clarendon Stores (next door) in 1941. Pictures: Mark BoggisHolgates in Lowestoft, during the Second World War - even Hitler could not stop the business trading as a Luftwaffe had flattened Clarendon Stores (next door) in 1941. Pictures: Mark Boggis

“With retirement looming and a lack of footfall in the town, Holgates will be closing down very soon and selling off all remaining stock.

“In spite of my age, I don’t want to give it up. But as I am 78 now, and the lack of footfall in the High Street, it is just the way things are going – it is sad.

The original Mr Holgate, pictured at Christmas in 1928. Pictures: Mark BoggisThe original Mr Holgate, pictured at Christmas in 1928. Pictures: Mark Boggis

“I am just so sad it has got to be me to close the Holgates store given its family tradition,” Mr Pettit said.

“Holgates was always the most prestigious menswear shop in the town – all the young men used to head there to get the latest clothes.

“But it has been going downhill and downhill.

“We used to be busy all the time when my son and daughter ran it.

“But the Internet has done it – it is down to that and to some extent the lack of footfall in town.

“People’s shopping habits are entirely different as they have got into different ways of shopping now - it is sad it has come to this, but we can’t alter it.”

With a closing down sale now on, the aim is to sell as much stock as possible over the next two or three weeks before they make a decision on closure.

High Street woes

The latest blow to the High Street, comes as a number of stores have closed within the past six months around Lowestoft.

In recent months the Body Shop and Claire’s Accessories have closed with Beales Department Store, Kerrys Home Furnishings and long established family businesses Coes and Cooks Furnishers all putting up the closing down signs.

Beales department store on London Road North store is due to close on April 21.

Other closures include Coffee Heart on London Road North, Lowestoft; Tuttles Corner on Station Square, Lowestoft; Lowestoft Electrical on London Road North, Lowestoft and RopeWorks in Battery Green Road.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “Last month there were 75 vacant premises out of 410 (in Lowestoft town centre).

“National retail analysis indicates that this trend will accelerate in the coming months rather than slow down.”

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