Jobs to go as Woolworths closes

The name of Woolworths will disappear from Dereham and Fakenham on Saturday after decades in the towns as both shops shut with more than 60 job losses.

The name of Woolworths will disappear from Dereham and Fakenham on Saturday after decades in the towns as both shops shut with more than 60 job losses.

The staff in the stores - many who have clocked up countless years of service - had become “one big happy family” at a company that has been renowned for generations as a British high street institution.

But this weekend the first wave of 200 of the 807 Woolworths shops - including those at Dereham and Fakenham - will close.

One traders' leader has described the demise of his town's branch as a catastrophe.


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By January 5, the whole Woolies empire will have shut for the final time. Locally, speculation is under way about whether new companies can be found to fill the large units in Dereham's and Fakenham's market places.

Huge discount sales have been running in the shops, and even fixtures and fittings are now being sold off.

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Almost 450 employees in Norfolk's 13 shops will lose their jobs as part of

the 27,000 workforce nationwide. A total of 41 work at Dereham and 21 at Fakenham.

Workers, customers and business leaders have been coming to terms with the huge hole that the loss of Woolies shops will leave.

In Dereham, the present branch has trading since the 1960s, and before then FW Woolworth had been further along Market Place from about the 1930s.

Ian Philpott, chairman of Dereham Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “Clearly the town will miss Woolworths.

“It has always been a very busy shop and it is a prime site in the middle of the town.

“We are very concerned about the number of people who are going to be out of work.

“If Woolworths is no longer going to exist it would be nice to see some kind of department store opening up on the site.

“But in the present climate who is going to take over a site of that

size?

“It is such a prominent site, and being the largest store in the Market Place it is a catastrophe to see Woolworths go.”

Fakenham Chamber of Trade president Stuart Cutler said: “It is a sad passing, but perhaps something more positive will come along?

“There have been closures before and there have been other shops that have come in.

“If we don't look to the future and be positive the current doom and gloom will go on forever.”

William Nunn, leader of Dereham-based Breckland Council, said: “It is very sad when an established company goes. Woolworths is like an icon, many children grew up with it.

“As a council we will do everything we can to assist staff in finding other jobs or opportunities.”

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