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Renowned Suffolk boutique to close two shops in ‘heartbreaking’ loss to high street

PUBLISHED: 11:59 01 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:17 01 June 2020

Collen and Clare will be closing its shops in Aldeburgh and Burnham Market as a result of coronavirus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Collen and Clare will be closing its shops in Aldeburgh and Burnham Market as a result of coronavirus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The owner of Collen & Clare says coronavirus could have a devastating impact on Aldeburgh’s high street – as she is forced to close two of her stores permanently as a result of the pandemic.

Suffolk fashion boutique Collen and Clare has made the difficult decision to close two of its three stores as a result of the virus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk fashion boutique Collen and Clare has made the difficult decision to close two of its three stores as a result of the virus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Suffolk fashion brand, named by The Telegraph as one of the 50 best boutiques in Britain, is closing its shops in Aldeburgh and Burnham Market due to the impact Covid-19 has had on the retail world.

Collen & Clare’s flagship store in Southwold, which opened its doors 18 years ago, will reopen on June 15, but sadly the other two stores in East Anglia will close permanently.

Vanessa Collen, founder and CEO of Collen & Clare, said there could be a “massive bloodbath” in Aldeburgh’s high street as a result of the lockdown and admits the decision was “not taken lightly”.

She said: “It’s absolutely tragic that we have been forced to close our shops and I don’t think we have seen the beginning of it all yet.

“This pandemic is going to have a devastating impact on our high street, forcing so many independents to close permanently.”

The ‘coastal chic’ boutique has been serving the customers of Aldeburgh for the past six years and in Burnham Market for five. It is described as one of the best boutique’s outside London.

“It really is heartbreaking,” added Vanessa. “Aldeburgh has been amazing, everyone has been great.”

Vanessa’s flagship store in Southwold will reopen its doors on June 15 and Collen & Clare will continue to sell its exclusive range of womenswear, menswear and beauty online.

The brand has had a successful online platform for many years and Vanessa says she has been “overwhelmed” by the local support.

“Some customers who we never thought would shop online are now choosing to support us in this way and are embracing online shopping,” she explained. “They know they can trust us and we offer a really personal shopping service.”

Vanessa is hopeful that Collen & Clare will one day return to Aldeburgh and Burnham Market, but says the current environment is all about having to adapt.

She said: “It’s very sad, but there is no guarantee that this will save us. If we are still here in a year then I will be happy.”

In a Facebook post directed to her customers, Vanessa added: “The impact on my team is heartbreaking, humbling and far reaching.

“To our customers and the special town and village of Aldeburgh and Burnham Market, we thank you, miss you and hope one day to return.”

More: Independent shops prepare to reopen in June – but will shoppers visit?


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