Owner’s commitment to Sidmouth store following Axminster closure announcement

Fields of Sidmouth's future is 'bright' according to owners Goulds, after its announcement yesterday

Fields of Sidmouth's future is 'bright' according to owners Goulds, after its announcement yesterday. Picture: Sam Cooper - Credit: Archant

A historic department store has a ‘bright future’ despite challenging retail conditions says its owners in the wake of closure announcements.

Goulds of Dorchester says it is reviewing all areas of the business but says it was committed to developing Fields of Sidmouth, which has been in the town for more than 200 years.

The company announced yesterday that it would be closing Trinity House in Axminster later this year, resulting in the loss of 19 jobs.

The business acquired both department stores in 2015 but says it faced a strong challenge at the moment due to changing shopping habits which have seen many people switch to on-line buying.

During the 1800s, the Fields of Sidmouth site was originally four smaller shops before being acquired by John Field in the 1870s.

Rebecca Murphy, director of Goulds, said: “We are reviewing all areas of our business in the current challenging environment. We are 100 per cent committed to developing Fields of Sidmouth and we believe that despite the current situation it has a bright future ahead of it; it is well supported by the local population, has strong brands and it is in a great location.

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“Retail is facing strong challenges at the moment, but a store that has been proudly serving the people of Sidmouth since the 1800’s is not frightened to adapt.

“We need to ensure that the products and services we offer remain contemporary and relevant for all our customers and with their support we have every confidence in the longevity of Fields of Sidmouth.”

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With Trinty House closing, Axminster will lose its only department store.

In statement Goulds told The Herald: “As a result of an ongoing review the directors of Goulds (Dorchester) Ltd have announced their decision to cease trading at Trinity House.

“It is expected that the store will close at the end of September 2019, but the actual closing date is yet to be confirmed.

“The store was acquired on leasehold terms in November 2015 along with the premises known as TH2, which housed linens and housewares, until its replacement in 2017 by Costa Coffee.

“Despite having made a considerable investment in the business in an effort to make the Axminster store viable, current trading conditions, coupled with the continuing economic pressures on the department store sector, dictate that the business can no longer sustain an unprofitable branch store in Axminster.

“The company realise that this closure will be a major blow to the town. But even with sympathetic support from the local landlords it has been impossible to stem losses.

In common with so many other retailers we are suffering the effects of on-line competition and a change in shopping habits.

“We are deeply sorry at having to take this action not least because our colleagues have done their utmost to help make the store successful and our regular customers will feel the disappointment of losing the only department store in town.”

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