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Ever-increasing business rates and a rise in online shopping blamed for store closures

PUBLISHED: 07:30 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 18:40 17 February 2020

Winch & Blatch in Market Hill, Sudbury Picture: MARK LANGFORD

Winch & Blatch in Market Hill, Sudbury Picture: MARK LANGFORD

Archant

A family run business which has been trading for 75 years is preparing to close two of its four stores later this year as business rates in Sudbury continue to rise.

Judith Blatch and Richard Blatch at the Archant Hospitality Suite at the 2018 Suffolk Show. Picture: DAVID GARRARD/DIGIPIXJudith Blatch and Richard Blatch at the Archant Hospitality Suite at the 2018 Suffolk Show. Picture: DAVID GARRARD/DIGIPIX

Winch & Blatch has been a staple of the town since opening their first store in December 1945 when original owner John Blatch left the army.

The family business currently operates over four shops - selling homeware, men's clothing and women's wear.

But due to the rise of online shopping and increased business rates, the collection of stores, all situated on Market Hill and King Street, are struggling to maintain their position in the high street.

The family have been forced to make the decision to sell off half of their business and will close Menswear in Market Hill and The Fashion Gallery in King Street, eventually amalgamating their ranges in their remaining stores further along the street.

Winch & Blatch in Market Hill, Sudbury Picture: MARK LANGFORDWinch & Blatch in Market Hill, Sudbury Picture: MARK LANGFORD

Judith Blatch, co-director of Winch & Blatch, said: "I cannot say what the timescale is on the two premises we have for sale as there has been very little interest."

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She said the increase in popularity of online shopping, added to the mounting pressure of rising business rates were behind the decision to scale back the business.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show internet sales have increased 208% in the last 10 years with online retail purchases taking a 21.3% slice of overall sales in December last year alone.

A spokesman from Babergh District Council said: "We're committed to helping our towns and communities to thrive, and economic growth for local business is key.

"Business rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency but we can help our local businesses by offering a range of services, advice and support."

He said there was good news coming.

"Thanks to a cabinet decision this week, we can support our high streets by adopting the government's retail rate discounts as quickly as possible in order to help local businesses.

"If any business is experiencing financial difficulties, we urge them to contact us immediately, so that we can put suitable arrangements in place to support them."


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