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Why was Godfreys in Lowestoft forced to close?

Laura Willimott and Emily Woodhall in the new kitchen showroom area of Godfreys in Lowestoft.

Picture: James Bass

Laura Willimott and Emily Woodhall in the new kitchen showroom area of Godfreys in Lowestoft. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

Godfreys department store in Lowestoft closed last week. ANDREW PAPWORTH looks at the reasons why it was forced to shut.

A statement from Godfreys said that since the recession began, the store was severely hit by the changing shift in retail shopping habits and the retail economy in general.

It said Lowestoft was a town that has suffered from the downturn and that the company saw customers stopping coming into the town to shop like they used to.

It also highlighted the “changing road system in the town”, which it said “also gradually put people off coming into the town centre and its once loyal customers started to shop at retail parks in out of town locations and online”.

Not even an intervention by retail guru Mary Portas could turn things around, even though she revamped several parts of the store to make it more modern and appealing to customers.

With the store in a bad financial situation, she criticised store directors Laura Willimott and David Spooner for Godfreys’ poor customer service and for blocking out its front windows - a key sales opportunity.

Her radical changes seemed to work at first, with Mrs Willimott reporting a five per cent year-on-year rise in takings.

But the Suffolk Road premises was later put up for sale for £900,000, with Mrs Willimott saying Godfreys wanted cash to be able to put back into the business.

The site was ultimately taken off the market but the shock announcement over Godfreys going into administration happened in August.

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