Shoe shop set to close after more than two decades in business
- Credit: Aaron McMillan
A Fakenham shoe shop which has been in the town for more than 20 years is set to close due to the impacts of coronavirus and Brexit.
Andrew Field, who opened Broadland Shoes on the Market Place in May 1999, says the firm will be forced to shut at the end of November.
The 61-year-old began selling footwear in 1987, opening his first store in his hometown of Stalham.
Mr Field had initially hoped to retire when he reached 60 but, after the government increased the state pension age, he opted to push on.
Given the existing retail landscape, however, he has decided it is time to retire after all - admitting it is a worrying time.
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“Every trade in retail is dying," said Mr Field.
"If I was 26 or 27, I'd never be able to work in this sector until I'm 62. The business would not be there; it has just changed.
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"I used to have 95pc British stock but, wind the clock on 35 years, I've got two British companies left and nothing made in the UK. It's a massive thing with Brexit and Covid playing their parts."
On the impact of the virus, he added: "In 20 years' time, when we look back, Covid will possibly be blamed for the death of retail. All it's done is speed it up.
“We needed two months to wind down. We have might have shut down before Covid, and when it hit we were toying with it.
"Instead we've had to ride it out, and then this just seemed like a perfect time.
"Closing up is due to a combination of things that we just can't stop. It's like trying to jump off a runaway train, but we've just about got one foot on the platform."
Before moving into retail, Mr Field built buses for British Leyland before being made redundant and using his payment to start his own business.
More than three decades on, he confessed that calling time had left him with mixed feelings.
"It's a double-edged sword being in business, with some good things and some bad things," added Mr Field.
“I won't miss the hassle that goes with working, but I will miss interacting with people - you can't replace that."