Kerrys in Lowestoft set to close – but will be replaced with 'big national chain'
PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 March 2019
A furniture store has announced it is set to close for the final time, with a national chain arriving in its place.
Kerrys Home Furnishings in Lowestoft, owned by bed specialist Mattressman, will hold a closing-down sale next month before shutting its doors once all stock has been cleared.
Mattressman, which currently shares the premises on Suffolk Road, will relocate to the first floor of the building to make way for an as-yet-unknown ‘big national chain’ on the ground floor.
The popular tea room on the top floor will, however, remain open.
Andrew Kerry, who owns the Mattressman franchise and purchased the former Godfreys department store in 2016, said the current economic climate had forced a tough business decision.
“The retail economy has really not been good,” said Mr Kerry. “It has especially been very difficult in the furniture market over the last year.
“I definitely think Brexit hasn’t helped because of the sheer uncertainty. People have not been moving house as much as they otherwise would be, and as a result they are not buying new furniture – it’s as simple as that.
“The furniture trade is 20pc down across the country and, until the housing market recovers, it will continue to suffer.”
News of the closure comes a week after menswear retailer Coes announced it will shut after 50 years of trading in Lowestoft.
While Mattressman is able to cater for customers shopping online, Kerrys has largely been reliant on physical footfall generated by high street shoppers.
With the brand ceasing to exist in a few weeks’ time, the store will initially close on April 6 so that stock take and re-pricing can take place.
A closing down sale will begin on April 12, with £478,000-worth of stock marked down for clearance.
“It’s a real shame that we’re having to close Kerrys because we’ve spent a lot of money on it and we have a very loyal base of customers,” added Mr Kerry.
“Mattressman moved three years ago from the triangle market and we’d been there for nearly 10 years, so we’ve been in Lowestoft for a long time and built up a lot of goodwill.
“Ultimately the town needs retailers that can trade well. Sometimes you have got to look at the business model and say ‘does this work or not?’ At the end of the day, that’s what business is all about.”
High Street Fund
As businesses in Lowestoft continue to struggle, councils across the region hope their high street woes will be relieved by securing a share of a new government fund.
The Future High Street Fund, worth £675m, is earmarked for revitalising the country’s town centres and re-imagining the modern day British high street.
But competition in Norfolk and Waveney is expected to be stiff, with local authorities including Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Waveney District Council, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, Breckland Council and South Norfolk Council all vying for a slice.
Waveney District Council’s bid has expressed an interest in the fund for regenerating Lowestoft, while Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s vision for the seaside town is to transform the centre from a shopping hub into a place of leisure and entertainment.
A decision will be made this spring on which towns will be considered for the fund.
A week on from raising the issue of Lowestoft’s shop closures in parliament, Waveney MP Peter Aldous said the departure of Kerrys was further proof of the high street’s ongoing struggles.
He said: “This reinforces the point I made at Prime Minister’s Questions, that we urgently need to look at the future of our high streets all over the country.
“What we need to do is completely transform what town centres are about and encourage a range of uses for the high street. As well as big businesses, we need niche retailers, residential options and leisure uses.
“The government has put forward the Future High Streets Fund which is to encourage local authorities to come up with exciting visions for high streets. I imagine it will be heavily over-subscribed but it must be ensured there is enough money to go around.
“I think Lowestoft has an exciting offer for investors and that is something I will continue to highlight.