‘It is terribly sad for the whole of Norwich’: Staff plead with House of Fraser boss to save store
- Credit: PA
Staff at a doomed Norwich department store have written a letter pleading with its owner to reconsider the 'devastating' decision to close it.
The letter, said to be 'from the hearts of all the staff' at House of Fraser in Norwich, asks controversial businessman Mike Ashley – who saved the store chain from collapse in June in a £90m deal – to consider keeping their workplace open.
The Norwich store employs around 300 people, was the anchor tenant of Chapelfield shopping centre when it opened and is one of the retailer's branches which still turns a profit.
Plans for its closure were revealed in a shock announcement in November, with March 2019 hinted at as a possible closing date.
The letter was written by Jane Webb, an account manager in the store's beauty department. She said the staff were grateful to Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley for 'generously' swooping into save House of Fraser from administration – but that the closure of the Norwich store will be 'life-changing' for many people and 'terribly sad' for the city.
'The amounts of disappointed customers who come up to us every day saying how devastated they are we are closing is very sad,' she said.
'The loss which Chapelfield and [its owner] Intu are going to have will be catastrophic in both footfall and revenue because so many people just come to Norwich for HOF.'
Ms Webb, whose daughter also works at the Chapelfield store, says she has 'loved working in such an amazing store with incredible people' and described the team in the beauty hall as 'one big family'.
- 1 Screams of daughter run over by her dad heard by murder jury
- 2 Vehicles worth £50k stolen from Royal Norfolk Show
- 3 Couple who transformed old mill into unique new home put it up for sale
- 4 New fishing tackle shop has 'amazing opening day'
- 5 Plans for 13 new homes near historic former railway line
- 6 Primary school left without governors after mass walkout
- 7 Former professional dressage rider died in four-vehicle motorcycle crash
- 8 New headteacher appointed at village high school
- 9 Man killed 96-year-old bystander in road rage crash
- 10 Some of the best pictures from day two of the Royal Norfolk Show
She said customers visit the store from as far afield as Colchester and Bedford.
In the letter she said she 'respected' Mr Ashley as a businessman, but added: 'I just implore you please to just maybe somehow rethink about our closure of our home HOF as so many lives will be changed and affected and shopping will never quite be the same in Norwich.'
Chapelfield's centre manager has hinted that the vacant House of Fraser unit could be redeveloped into a leisure or entertainment complex, similar to that which is being developed at Castle Mall in the city.
House of Fraser has been approached for comment.