Argos to stay on Dereham’s High Street

The Argos store in Dereham on High Street. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The Argos store in Dereham on High Street. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A major retailer has quashed rumours that it is set to close its Dereham high street store - but yet another gap could be left in the town's market place.

An Argos concession is set to open in Dereham's Homebase as part of a nationwide strategy to boost sales at the DIY store.

Home Retail Group, which owns both brands, as well as Habitat, has applied to Breckland Council for permission to install Argos signage outside the Yaxham Road site.

It comes after the company announced last year that one in four Homebase stores would shut by 2018 as part of a three-year turnaround plan.

The move has prompted fears that the High Street branch of Argos will close, leaving yet another hole in Dereham's town centre.


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But Home Retail Group bosses denied these claims, saying the concession would be in addition to the main Argos store and will offer a different service to the existing branch.

A spokesman said: 'We can confirm that there will be an Argos concession opening within Homebase on Yaxham Road which will be in addition to the Argos on the High Street.

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'The concession will offer customers all of the benefits of an Argos digital store, including tablet browsers instead of catalogues and fast track collection for pre-paid orders placed online.'

Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounds the future of Johnsons Cleaners on Market Place after the dry cleaning chained announced it was going to close 109 of its 307 high street stores.

A company spokesman could not confirm which branches will close.A list of stores facing the axe should become available within the next few weeks.

If the store closes, it will be the latest in a line of Dereham shops to shut down.

Norfolk Camera Centre closed over the Christmas period, Francis Wain Jewellers relocated to Norwich in October, Sounds is closing at the end of next month and GD Cook has closed.

The Chambers, Runway and William Hill units are also still standing empty.

Meanwhile, townsfolk are waiting with keen anticipation as to what Basil Todd will turn Palmers, which has started its closing down sale, and nearby buildings into.

Town and district councillor Phillip Duigan said: 'The worrying thing is that people are not coming in to fill the gaps. It's very difficult to get an overall pattern - we know globally that retailers, especially in small towns, are under pressure from multiples and the internet. We are all concerned, we don't want big gaps on the high street.

'Breckland is determined to keep parking free and the town council has re-done the toilets and we have upgraded a lot of the infrastructure such as the Memorial Hall and recycling centre.

'Those are the sort of things can do as councils to make Dereham a more attractive place but we are at the whims of the shopping world.'

Breckland Computer Services, which has expanded its business to offer photo printing, has a number of photos left by Norfolk Camera Centre. To see if your photographs are with the Cowper Road firm, call 01362 852188.

What do you think of the state of Dereham's high street? Write, giving full contact details, to The Community Editor, Dereham Times, Bond House, High Street, Dereham, NR19 1DZ or email dft.letters@archant.co.uk

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