'Store closing' signs appear in Palmers windows
PUBLISHED: 13:09 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:09 24 January 2020
Store closing signs have gone up in the windows of a historic high street shop.
With 'everything must go' and 'all stock reduced' posters appearing alongside the 'store closing' signs at Palmers in Lowestoft town centre, it comes as owners Beales collapsed into administration this week.
Joint administrators from advisory firm KPMG Restructuring however stressed it was business as usual as they "continue to trade" all stores "as a going concern" and that the department store chain could still be saved if a buyer is found.
With Beales running a number of stores across Norfolk and Suffolk, including Diss and Beccles, it also has two sites in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft after Palmers became part of the Bournemouth-based Beales group at the end of November 2018.
But with the jobs of more than 1,000 people at risk nationwide, it means the future of Palmers is also at risk.
The store has stood proudly in Lowestoft town centre on London Road North since 1907.
Founded as the family-run Chadds independent department store in 1907, after almost 100 years trading in the high street it was taken over in 2004 by Palmers.
In 2009 the store was rebranded as Palmers, following a modernisation, as it joined existing Palmers shops at Yarmouth, Dereham and Bury St Edmunds.
After Palmers was founded in Great Yarmouth in 1837, the independent family-run business grew from a small draper's shop to a chain employing 400 staff.
In recent years Palmers was forced to close its stores at Bury St Edmunds and Dereham, and in November 2018 the Palmers stores in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft looked to have been given a lifeline after being taken over by Beales.
However, as the retailer put itself on the market after issuing a stark warning that it faced "exceptionally challenging times", on Monday it was announced the chain had collapsed into administration.
A statement released by Beales' administrators KPMG said no stores would be closed immediately and there would be no instant job losses.
It said: "The joint administrators will continue to trade all 23 stores as a going concern while they assess options for the business.
"All members of staff have been retained by the joint administrators to assist in trading the stores."
Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said while the stores were still trading gift vouchers, customer deposits and customer returns/refunds would "continue to be honoured."