Lowestoft: Jarrolds stationery store to close

EAST Anglian retailer Jarrolds has blamed a downturn in trade for its decision to close its store in Lowestoft.

Jarrolds, which also has stores in Norwich, Cromer and Wymondham in Norfolk, is closing its only branch in north Suffolk from today, with the loss of five jobs.

It marks the end of an era for the family-run firm which has had a stationery store in Lowestoft since 1907.

Managing director Peter Mitchell said the disruption felt by the town when major roadworks were carried out on the bascule bridge in 2008 and 2009 had contributed to a decline in sales, and trade had failed to bounce back.

But he reassured staff and customers that the move did not affect any of its other shops in the region.

“It’s been a very sad decision to have to make,” he said. “It’s driven by the downturn in trade we’ve experienced in Lowestoft in recent years.

“The disruptions in the town have not been good for trade – it was very difficult to get into Lowestoft at one point. We stuck with it, hoping to see a recovery, but 18 months on we have reached the point where the store is no longer viable.”

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Lowestoft store manager David Stevenson, who has worked for Jarrold & Son for 18 years, including nine in Lowestoft, has taken up an offer to relocate to the company’s flagship Norwich store but two full-time staff, two part-timers and one Saturday worker will lose their jobs. Mr Stevenson said: “It’s been increasingly difficult to trade in the town over the past three or four years. It is a very sad day when we have to shut shops like this down.

“There have been many factors against the town’s trade, particularly the roadworks on the bridge, and that’s put the nail in the coffin.

“It’s not easy by any means and it’s particularly hard in Lowestoft where quite a few businesses are cutting back and not taking people on.”

Mr Mitchell added: “No other stores in our portfolio are on a danger list. As a business we worked hard to develop the branch by adding crafts and arts products which worked to attract people from both counties.”

Jarrolds’ first store in Lowestoft was on the corner of Beach Road and London Road North and, in the 1990s, moved along Beach Road.

Although it is now based in Norfolk, the company started life in Suffolk nearly 240 years ago with a drapers and grocers store in Woodbridge. The business expanded to printing in 1815 and within a decade moved on to selling books and stationery.