Fields bosses set sights on eventual retirement

11:32 11 March 2014

Fields of Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 2448-10-14TI

Fields of Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 2448-10-14TI

Archant

BOSSES at Fields of Sidmouth have told staff of their eventual plans to sell the 200-year-old outlet as a going concern – but insist it will be ‘business as usual’.

The independent department store’s four executive directors have set their sights on retirement and have acted early and openly to let valued workers know about the firm’s potential future.

They told the Herald this week that Fields of Sidmouth Ltd is ‘beginning the process’ of marketing the business.

The directors will be seeking a purchaser who is ‘sympathetic to the trading ethos of the company, sharing Fields’ customer-centred approach and will value its skilled and loyal workforce’, but no timescale has been set.

The Spores and Roberts families have been owners and directors of Fields for 36 years.

“We have developed a strong and substantial business, but with no younger family members in a position to follow - and the need to make our own future retirement plans - we felt the time was now right to inform our loyal workforce,” said joint managing director Tim Spores.

“It will take time to find the right purchaser and no definitive timetable can be given. In the meantime, Fields will continue ‘business as usual’ while working alongside staff to ensure the company’s smooth transition.

“The company has weathered the recent financial crisis well. Its balance sheet is sound, with no outstanding debts, and will be attractive to a future purchaser.”

Staff were informed on Tuesday morning.

Joint managing director Trevor Roberts added: “Fields isn’t up for sale.

“The directors are not getting any younger, and we are starting the process by which we will retire from the business – which seems quite a long time off. We all can’t go on forever.

“At the moment all we have done is advise our staff what the eventual plans for the business will be.

“We are custodians of a strong business that has been here for a couple of hundred years and we want to move forward successfully.”

There has been retail activity on the Market Place site occupied by Fields for 200 years. The premises were acquired by John Field in the 1870s and 1880s and gradually amalgamated into a full drapery store.

The store’s frontage today is very much as it was in 1800.

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