Ripon’s only department store closes it doors


Last updated Dec 1, 2020
Mark Butler says loss of a month's trade in November was a killer

Ripon’s only department store has closed its doors after the second COVID-19 lockdown wiped out a crucial month of trading.

Owner Mark Butler, who set up the ‘House of Independent Retailers’ seven years ago, told the Stray Ferret:

“I’m very sorry to say that losing the month of November, was the killer for us.

“Our monthly overheads are £7,000 and we haven’t been able to make a penny at a time of year when people start buying their Christmas gifts

“We had hoped that Christmas would be our saviour, but that was not to be and we had to take the painful decision to close.”

Photo of Wrens department store

Wrens department store, which is now closed

The Fishergate store, which provided sales space for 52 independent retailers, ranging from those selling a single product to a section dedicated to womenswear, was located in the building previously occupied by the Philip Hall department store.

Its award-winning concept, which earned  a national prize for innovative retailing, gave start-up and other small retailers low risk means of entry to the market, with affordable rents and low overheads.

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Mr Butler, who has received hundreds of messages of goodwill since news of the closure was shared on social media, said:

“We are leaving with our heads held high and proud to have played a part in helping more than a dozen fledgling businesses to get off the ground and set up in their own shops.”

He pointed out:

“We are parting on good terms with all of our retailers, who are now in the process of collecting their stock and we have maintained a good relationship with our landlord.”

After the first three-month lockdown was lifted in June, Mr Butler said that survival of the business would be reliant on staycationers coming to campsites and holiday lets in the Ripon area.

He hoped that people who had not been able to go on overseas holidays, would have money to spend in the shops, but the footfall did not materialise and this, combined with the loss of day-trip customers arriving by coach, dealt another blow.

As he prepares to lock the premises for good, he had a message, saying:

“I sincerely wish all independent retailers a successful Christmas, with people shopping locally to help them make it through this very difficult time.”


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