Town ‘on up and up’ despite loss

JR Taylor store in St Annes Square.
JR Taylor store in St Annes Square.

The loss of the JR Taylor store this weekend shouldn’t be allowed to undermine the general feeling of St Annes being on the up and up.

That’s the feeling of civic and trade chiefs after it was announced the historic department store will close this weekend with the loss of 60 jobs.

John Moxham, chairman of St Annes Chamber of Trade

John Moxham, chairman of St Annes Chamber of Trade

A month after the business entered administration, management confirmed the independent store – founded in 1901 and occupying four floors at the corner of The Square and Garden Street – is to shut on Saturday.

“It’s very sad and we have to hope that someone comes in to take over such prominent premises as quickly as possibly,” said St Annes town mayor Coun Ed Nash.

“Ideally, a quality retail operation will be interested and we can certainly take heart from the way that Tesco Express took over the old Booth’s store and B&M Bargains successfully moved into the former Woolworth’s building.

“Aldi, Sainsbury’s and particularly Marks & Spencer all appear to be doing well and we also have a great array of independent stores offering all sorts of quality products.

Coun Ed Nash, St Annes town mayor 2014-15

Coun Ed Nash, St Annes town mayor 2014-15

“There are fewer empty shops in St Annes compared to many other towns and we have an increasing number of events and other attractions to offer visitors as well as residents.

“The town generally is on the up and I have every confidence that that trend will continue.”

St Annes Chamber of Trade will discuss the Taylor’s situation closure at its latest monthly meeting tonight and chairman John Moxham said: “After it was announced last month that the business was going into administration, I did not think anyone thought it would be saved.

“I think the closure shows that perhaps that kind of store had run its course – that the format on offer there wasn’t working. But there is so much in St Annes which is working well and I have every confidence that we can continue to build on that.

“There is still a chance someone might take over the lease of the building, and that is the only thing we can hope for, for someone to come along and reinvigorate the building.

“If we could get a national chain in there, that would be ideal.“

Matthew Bye, a spokesman for JR Taylor owners Howjow Investments, said: “It is with sadness and regret that we announce this closure.

“JR Taylor has enjoyed a long association with St Annes and with people from across the county.

“The owners and management have worked tremendously hard over the last few years to try to return the business to profitability, but changing shopping habits and economic conditions continued to put pressure on the business.

“We got to a point where it was no longer sustainable.”

Mr Bye said administrators Duff and Phelps had had some interest from parties looking to take over the store, but no firm offers had been received.

He also praised staff for their efforts, adding: “This has been a difficult and uncertain time for the staff, and we’d like to place on record our thanks to them for their continued hard work and dedication while this process has been going on.”

Mr Bye confirmed redundancy payments to staff would be paid in full.

Tonight’s meeting (Thursday) of St Annes Chamber of Trade, put back a week because the regular venue, the Lindum Hotel, South Promenade, was not available on the original date, starts at 6.30pm and all traders are welcome.