Sad day for Dereham as independent electrical store Bennetts announces closure

Philip and Jennifer Morter are closing Bennetts in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Philip and Jennifer Morter are closing Bennetts in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

It is one of the longest-running family independent firms in Dereham but the owners of Bennetts on Norwich Street have announced a closing down sale.

Places - D Norwich Street at Dereham, shops include Bennetts radio, tv and electrical, Dereham Pr

Places - D Norwich Street at Dereham, shops include Bennetts radio, tv and electrical, Dereham Property Co. and ' The Cock Inn '. Dated 3 October 1970 Photograph C6877 BH. Smith

A hike in business rates have been blamed for the decision after a few 'difficult years' in which margins have become tighter.

Philip Morter, who has run the Norwich Street electricals store with wife Jennifer for the past 15 years since taking over from her parents, said their rates had risen from £17,000 a year to £21,000.

'We just can't wear it any more,' he said. 'The past three years have been difficult due to the current economic climate but we see £21,000 a year as a lot of money just for rates, and that doesn't even pay for rubbish to be taken away.'

The shop was first opened in 1947 by Gerald Bennett, Mrs Morter's grandfather. He and his brother Morris launched their electrical business in Fakenham in 1922, and Dereham was their second branch. A small store was opened in Reepham in 2003 but Mr Morter said that too had closed last week.

Bennetts (Dereham) Flashback

Bennetts (Dereham) Flashback - Credit: Archant

'We have a lot of loyal customers but we have lost all our smaller trade to the multi-nationals that have opened in town,' he said.

'It is sad and the end of an era but we are trying not to think about it too much. We are probably the last old family business in the town.

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'But we are doing this the best way we can, we have not gone bust or gone into liquidation. Nothing lasts forever.'

Town mayor Phillip Duigan said it was 'bad news' for the town and would be missed.

'I remember when they sold records in the 1960s and you could go in and sit in a booth and listen to a record before you bought it,' he said. 'I listened to some of the first Beetles records in there.

'It is a very sad day because everybody brought up in Dereham would know about Bennetts. It is a real blow to the high street.'

* How do you feel about Bennetts closing? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk

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