Lost in lockdown – the Suffolk businesses which have closed due to coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 05:30 04 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:10 04 July 2020
Many businesses have started to welcome customers back following the coronavirus lockdown. However, some pubs, restaurants and shops have been lost from our high street for good.
It has been a testing few months for retailers and businesses in Suffolk and for many, the lockdown restrictions and complete closures has proven too much, with a number of places announcing that their shutters will not reopen.
A few weeks ago, Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, warned just half of the business spaces in town centres may not reopen to customers after lockdown.
He said: “Some premises will get smaller, some might simply not reopen at the end of lockdown. This is going to have a major impact on the town centre.”
So what businesses will not be reopening in Suffolk and why?
Cafes and restaurants
• Casbalanca restaurant – Ipswich
The popular Moroccan/Lebanese restaurant announced its permanent closure last week, saying it has been “battered and bruised” by the pandemic.
The Tacket Street restaurant – which was often ranked one of the best in the town – was owned by head chef Farhad Amin, who said the closure comes with a “heavy heart”.
Customers were devastated by the news, with one person saying: “They were the most brilliant hard working people and what they achieved with that restaurant was beyond brilliant – including the food.”
Sophia Foroshani added: “Very sad – lovely food, staff and atmosphere.”
• Cafe Rouge – Bury St Edmunds
Cafe Rouge in Bury St Edmunds is among 91 sites owned by the Casual Dining Group which will close down due to the company going into administration – with a loss of 1,909 jobs.
The group also owns Bella Italia and Las Iguanas and has saved 159 of its 250 sites for the time being.
The board said that entering administration was in the best interests of stakeholders during the “extreme operating environment” it is having to trade through.
It is looking for a new owner, but said the administration would allow it to end negotiations with landlords, a “critical step” before finding a buyer.
• Crabtrees cafe – Hadleigh
The family-run cafe in the heart of Hadleigh has also announced its closure amid the lockdown after 13 years of service – but it remains unclear whether the virus is to blame.
In a statement, the team behind the cafe said: “It is with great sadness that we have to advise that Crabtrees Cafe Bar has closed for good.
“We would like to thank all our fabulous customers for all their support.”
The cafe was run by the Leach family and was popular for its array of homemade cakes.
• The Rampant Horse pub – Needham Market
The Rampant Horse in Needham Market has been put up for sale following the devastating impact of coronavirus.
The 16th century pub in Coddenham Road had planned to reopen after the lockdown is lifted, but owner Calvors Brewery said they “hung on as long as they could” and were concerned about how they could make it viable.
He said the decision has been difficult to make and includes seven redundancies, some of whom have seven or eight years of service.
• The Black Horse pub – Ipswich
Landlord Michelle Taft took over the pub in January 2017, but submitted the notice to end the tenancy agreement in February this year, following the sudden ill-health of a family member.
Speaking of the closure, Michelle said: “The plan was that someone would continue to run it as it is and we would visit as customers, but because of coronavirus no-one wants to take on a pub right now.”
Despite not closing as an economic result of the pandemic, Michelle said the lockdown means the pub will “not get a proper goodbye” and it is “sad and frustrating to end this way”.
The brewery will be boarding the pub up until someone wishes to take it on.
• Kiko Milano – Ipswich
The Kiko Milano makeup store in Ipswich’s Tavern Street has closed permanently, with the sign and all branding removed from the shop front.
The cosmetics store had been operating in the town for the last four years, after it moved into the former home of Sole Trader.
Ipswich Central said they had not heard anything official from Kiko’s head office regarding a permanent closure, however the makeup brand confirmed the store was shut on Twitter.
• Jack Wills – Ipswich and Aldeburgh
Jack Wills has closed two of its Suffolk stores for good amid the coronavirus pandemic – with the sign taken down in Ipswich Tavern Street.
The clothes retailer, which was taken over by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group last summer, has shut a number of stores since the virus outbreak, with two of the three sites in Suffolk on the list.
Both the Ipswich Tavern Street shop and the Aldeburgh High Street store – which was the first to open in Suffolk – have been removed from the Jack Wills store locator online and are no longer trading.
The Jack Wills website now states that the nearest available stores to Ipswich are those in Southwold, Braintree or Chelmsford, leaving just one site left in the county.
• Collen & Clare – Aldeburgh
The Suffolk fashion brand, named by The Telegraph as one of the 50 best boutiques in Britain, has closed its shops in Aldeburgh due to the impact of Covid-19.
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”.
The ‘coastal chic’ boutique has been serving the customers of Aldeburgh for the past six years.
“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,” added Vanessa.
• Sweet Dreams – Woodbridge
The independent lingerie shop in Woodbridge announced that it has closed its doors for the final time in the beginning of June.
The shop had originally been based in Wickham Market, where it traded for 17 years.
However, in 2013 the decision was made to move to Woodbridge, due to a lack of passing trade in Wickham Market and the prospect of joining other independent retailers in the popular Thoroughfare.
The shop confirmed its closure, saying it was down to difficulties in high street trading including increased stock costs and the wake of recent events.
• The Thrifty Thistle – Felixstowe
Thrifty Thistle, a craft store in the usually bustling seaside town of Felixstowe, has ceased trading following the coronavirus lockdown.
Glynis Sweeney, who owned the shop in Hamilton Road, announced the closure on Facebook in late May, and said it was “very disappointing”.
She said: “Sadly, due to the coronavirus lockdown and having to close for isolation, I have decided to cease trading The Thrifty Thistle.
“It is sad that the journey must end here as we had many more plans in the pipeline that were going to happen this year.”
• Marlows Garden Centre – Bury St Edmunds
Marlows Home and Garden Centre in Bury St Edmunds has been forced to close because of “poor trading conditions” caused by Covid-19.
A post on the centre’s Facebook page, said: “Due to poor trading conditions caused by coronavirus, Marlows Home and Garden will be closing down.”
The closure is expected to be complete by autumn 2020.
Shoppers expressed their sadness at the garden centre shutting, with one person saying “it is part of Bury St Edmunds”.
• The Gym – Ipswich
The Gym Ipswich, in Civic Drive, has closed its doors for good after owners Abbeycroft Leisure – which has operated the gym for 10 years – said it will not be renewing its lease on the building.
Warren Smyth, chief executive at Abbeycroft, said: “This extremely difficult decision had been reached just prior to the recent Coronavirus pandemic with a view to closing later in the year.
“However, the leisure industry is now facing unprecedented challenges and this will continue when the lockdown is lifted, which has further reinforced that we have made the right choice.”
• Bounce and Billy Beez – Ipswich
Owners of Bounce and Billy Beez have appointed administrators after the coronavirus was “the final nail in the coffin”.
The parent companies of Bounce and Billy Beez at the Anglia Retail Park, Ipswich, called in liquidators on June 26 – but remain optimistic the sites will open under a different operator.
Paul Cooper, joint administrator of David Rubin & Partners, said: “The two sites on the business park have obviously been mothballed for the past three and a bit months because of coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, there are fears that some larger chains, such as Frankie & Benny’s could close branches in Suffolk.
According to an email seen by the BBC, the owner of dining chain The Restaurant Group (TRG) is set to tell staff on Wednesday that many sites are “no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently”.
The email adds: “The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted our ability to trade profitably, so we’ve taken the tough decision to close these restaurants now.”
Even though it is not clear how many sites will be affected, the BBC says the message was sent to managers in the group’s leisure division, which consists of more than 200 Frankie & Benny’s restaurants.
The comes after the chain – which has two branches in Ipswich as well as sites in Bury St Edmunds and Colchester – announced in February that it would be closing 90 restaurants by the end of 2020.
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