'Business as ususal' - Winch & Blatch pledge as sale announced of town centre outlets
PUBLISHED: 19:30 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 21:28 11 July 2019
Winch & Blatch, one of Sudbury's oldest independent businesses, is to close two of its town centre outlets.
Winch & Blatch is to sell the buildings housing its menswear section and its fashion section, with the departments being absorbed into its remaining sites in nearby King Street.
The sale is expected to take place later this year, although a date has yet to be established.
The family-run department store has operated as Winch & Blatch since 1945 but can trace its origins back to a drapery and silk business in 1850.
It employs a total of 45 staff and is owned by husband and wife directors Richard and Judith Blatch.
Mrs Blatch said: "Winch & Blatch is consolidating our floor space in line with the decline in high street sales.
"The menswear store is being offered for sale shortly through our appointed agents, Morley, Riches and Ablewhite.
"The Fashion Gallery will also be put on the market in due course. Meanwhile, it is business as usual."
Hazel Barnard, Winch & Blatch's buyer, said the move came in what was a difficult time for the High Street.
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"The company is looking to restructure the business into less retail units," she said.
"We have had to make some difficult decisions and one of them is to shrink the company a little bit.
"We hope no jobs will be lost - if there are any it will be through natural wastage, but there are none planned."
Winch & Blatch has its main store, which includes homeware and a café, at 22 King Street.
Ms Barnard said the firm remained committed to Sudbury.
"Sudbury is a lovely town. It is special to us and vice versa," she said.
"But what we don't want to do is just sit back as a company and let things make us disappear."
Robin Bailey, chairman of Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, said the move reflected the struggle facing businesses in the High Street across the country.
"The High Street is facing a difficult time in the face of business rates, lower footfall and online shopping," he said.
"It's sad to see one of our major stores have to do this but fortunately they are still here.
"The best thing people can do is go and shop there - it really is a case of use it or lose it."