Stowmarket store has three months to find new site
- Credit: Archant
One of the best-known stores Stowmarket town centre could be gone within three months after talks about renewing its lease broke down.
Baldwins was set up nearly 12 years ago in the former Co-op department store in the High Street.
It was founded by Kevin Baldwin who had been a manager with the Co-op and sells homewares and some clothing. There are three people employed at the store.
Mr Baldwin said he had been told by his landlords that he had to be out in three months because they want to convert it into smaller shop units with flats above.
But the success of Stowmarket town centre has posed a problem for him: "There simply aren't any empty units in Stowmarket that would be suitable for us so we may just have to shut up shop.
"There's the old Hughes store but that doesn't appear to be on the market at the moment and there is nothing else."
Mr Baldwin said he understood the landlord's position: "A few years ago they took back half of the store and turned it into two smaller shops and flats and I can see that brings in more for them.
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"We have been talking to them for some time, but they wanted to put the rent up by 40% and for us to commit to the shop for another five years and in the current position we can't do that so we have to leave by the end of June. I can see their point but it gives us a real problem."
As well as the Stowmarket store there are also Baldwins stores in the Sailmakers centre in Ipswich and in some north Essex towns - but Stowmarket is the largest store.
"This won't affect the other shops, but it will be a big blow for our customers if we cannot find somewhere else in Stowmarket. We have about 4,500 members of our loyalty club and a large number of them use the Stowmarket store."
Mr Baldwin originally rented the building from the East of England Co-operative Society but the freehold was sold to a local company many years ago.