Store to close after 160 years

A WELL-known Essex furniture store is to close after trading for more than 160 years in Chelmsford, it emerged yesterday.Bolingbroke & Henley has posted an announcement on its website informing customers that it is closing following a decision by the shareholders to accept an unsolicited, but substantial, offer for its Parkway property near the Army & Navy roundabout.

A WELL-known Essex furniture store is to close after trading for more than 160 years in Chelmsford, it emerged yesterday.

Bolingbroke & Henley has posted an announcement on its website informing customers that it is closing following a decision by the shareholders to accept an unsolicited, but substantial, offer for its Parkway property near the Army & Navy roundabout.

It is believed the closure will result in the loss of around 70 jobs.

The family-owned company moved to the current Parkway site in April 2000 when its former premises in Chelmsford High Street closed. The showrooms were the target of the undisclosed offer that has ultimately led to the closure of the business.


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The name of the buyer was not revealed due to a confidentiality agreement.

In the announcement, directors John Bolingbroke and Simon Watkins said that the lack of interest by close family members to take over the business coupled with an increasingly tough marketplace led to the decision to accept the offer.

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They added that as the value of the property now far outweighed the value of the business, it meant “that neither of the working shareholders could ever afford to buy out the other and in the event of the incapacity or death of either the business would have to be sold”.

The two directors stressed that the company was not in financial difficulty and would make an orderly exit from trading.

Employees have been assured that they will receive final settlements “considerably in excess of the legal minimum” and the company has appointed an agency to assist staff in finding new employment.

“Taking into account all the factors and their responsibility to the security and future of their own families, the shareholders reluctantly agreed to bring to an end over 160 years of successful trading by Bolingbroke & Wenley in Chelmsford,” said Messrs Bolingbroke and Watkins in their letter to customers.

“It's never easy to bring to an end an 'institution' like Bolingbroke & Wenley and as we both experienced the demise of the High Street store, we are very aware of what a very sad and emotional time it can be.

“However having considered all options, the shareholders are united in agreement that the timing is propitious and the offer cannot be ignored.”

The store will vacate the Parkway site by the end of July. However an experienced team will continue to work from Bolingbroke & Henley's distribution centre at the Waterhouse Business Park (which is not par to the acquisition) until Christmas to deal with any outstanding business.

All orders placed before last weekend (Saturday, May 27) will be completed and delivered in the usual way. The closing down sale is open to existing customers today and to the general public from tomorrow.

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