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Shops blow for Fakenham

PUBLISHED: 14:38 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 07 July 2010

The retail decline of Fakenham town centre continued this week with news that another long-established trader is soon to close.

On Tuesday night traders' leader Pat Cooke described the town's retail situation, particularly in the market place area as "devastating".

The retail decline of Fakenham town centre continued this week with news that another long-established trader is soon to close.

On Tuesday night traders' leader Pat Cooke described the town's retail situation, particularly in the market place area as “devastating”.

“I just don't know how these recent new closures are going to affect the town,” she said.

Fakenham was shocked by last week's announcement that after decades trading in the town centre, family firm Aldiss is to close this summer.

Now another well-known shop, The Flower Centre on Oak Street, which has been trading for 17 years, is to close with owner Brenda Ravencroft blaming a “significant” rise in the rent of the Oak Street premises.

Ironically Mrs Ravencroft, 75, recalled that when she first came to Fakenham she took selling space within the Aldiss department store. The arrival of Tesco supermarket, close to the shop, was also seen in a positive light because it brought more people to that part of town and more custom to the shop.

Mrs Ravencroft, has been involved with the flower trade for about 40 years, and at one time she also ran shops at Holt and North Elmham. She is a former member of Norfolk County Council and served for a year as deputy chairman.

“Unfortunately a large increase in rent and other overheads have made it impossible to continue trading from the Fakenham without passing on large increases in flower prices to our customers which we feel would be unfair,” said Mrs Ravencroft in a letter to her regular customers.

She new plans to re-open the North Elmham Flower Centre at Station Road but it will be mainly as a flower order and delivery service.

Mrs Ravencroft said she has always enjoyed being involved with flowers because in the main, apart from funerals, they marked the happy times in people's lives like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and the birth of babies.

The shop closure, on August 2, means that assistants, manageress Ann Syer , who has worked for the firm at Fakenham and North Elmham for 23 years and Julia Butler, will leave. Two delivery drivers will transfer to the North Elmham business.

The Aldiss department store has launched a closing down sale and a To Let sign has gone up on the outside of the imposing building. The company chairman Tim Aldiss has said that it is to retain ownership of the building and that it is actively looking for a new tenant to take over the extensive three storey building.

There has been a hive of activity in the store with last weekend being particularly busy with shoppers keen to get a bargain purchase.

Concern is growing that when the Aldiss store and the Flower Centre close there will be six empty shops around the immediate market place area.

Mrs Cooke said that traders had to remain in a positive frame of mind because it would not help their case to be negative.

“I know shops have closed before and they have re-opened by other traders but this current situation is very, very worrying,” she said.

She said there were various rumours circulating suggesting that new names were coming to the town but there was nothing definite until the new occupier opened for business.

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