Store chain’s closure a second blow for Bury

FOR the second time in less than three weeks, a store chain with a branch in Bury St Edmunds has gone into administration.

The Officer’s Club clothing chain went into administration on Tuesday and, in a sad echo of Bennetts Electrical, its new owners decided not to keep the Bury store.

There were reports that staff at the store in Cornhill, Bury, arrived at work to find it closed. A spokeswoman for the chain’s administrators Grant Thornton said they were not appointed until 12.30pm so were not able to meet staff when they arrived, but representatives met them later.

The high street chain, which also went into administration in December 2008, employs 900 in 102 stores. The Blue Inc clothing chain has bought 46 stores, safeguarding the jobs of 400 staff, but 56 stores, including Bury’s, plus the firm’s warehousing have closed.

Joint administrator Joe McLean said: “The company experienced particularly challenging trading conditions in 2010 with raw material costs rising significantly. It was not possible to pass these increases on to customers given the extremely price sensitive nature of the UK retail arena.

“It is regrettable that a purchaser for all of the company’s business and assets could not be located.”

Staff at all 56 shops that have closed have been made redundant.

Bury town centre manager Mark Cordell said: “It’s disappointing to see a business in the town come into difficulties and our thoughts are with the staff whose jobs are under threat. We’re hoping that the trading environment starts to improve.”

Chamber of Commerce chairman Andrew Denny said: “It’s indicative of the trend in the whole country. So far Bury St Edmunds has remained relatively bouyant compared with the rest.

“It does suggest we can’t sit back and say everything’s all right because we’ve got a few chains coming in. It adds to the importance of the independent traders who are part of Bury’s mix.”