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Sad but not surprised: Shoppers react to House of Fraser news

By Jordan Reynolds | Shrewsbury | Business | Published:

Shoppers in Shropshire were sad to hear that House of Fraser was set to go – but most were not surprised.

These Shrewsbury shoppers rarely use House of Fraser

Both the Shrewsbury and Telford branches are among the 31 stores closing nationwide. We went to both towns to see what shoppers made of the news, which will affect 253 workers in Shropshire and 6,000 nationwide.

Shrewsbury High Street

Stella Woodford, from Shrewsbury, said she uses the store as a cut-through but rarely spends money there.

The 74-year-old said: "My daughter bought a very expensive handbag there last week, but I usually just use it as a short-cut.

"They spent a lot of money on the refurbishment but the finish wasn't great.

Shrewsbury's House of Fraser store is in one of the town's famous Tudor buildings

"I think it's a listed building so I doubt they can do too much.

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"The last thing I bought there was a top about four years ago which was half price.

"I hardly ever buy cosmetics which House of Fraser sells, but they do have a good perfume counter."

Stella Woodford

The pensioner added: "I'll be sorry if it goes but I don't use it regularly. I don't want to see if turned into another restaurant.

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"When I first came to Shrewsbury years ago it was very busy but it used to sell fabrics too, there's just something not quite right about it now.

"It's the smaller shops that bring people here."

Poppy Morris

Shrewsbury Sixth Form student Poppy Morris said she does not shop in House of Fraser and would only go in to look at the make up.

The 16-year-old said: "Boots do a lot of the make up that House of Fraser sells.

"Sometimes House of Fraser has a better range of products, like big Too Faced stands and a better Clinique range, there is more there."

Ruth Brown, a store manager at Pure Ladies Boutique, used to work at House of Fraser about 13 years ago and said she is sorry for the people who are losing their jobs.

She said: "I was a fashion manager years ago there.

Ruth Brown

"I pop in to the shop to see the girls, but I don't buy anything, it's too 'fuddy-duddy'.

"The only thing I would think about buying is the cosmetics.

"It is a bit of a shame, I'll be sad to see it go, some of the staff have been there for decades.

"Who's going to go in there after House of Fraser goes?

"They spent a lot of money doing it out, for a department store I think it looks good but I don't think they moved it on that much.

"John Lewis is one of the department stores that has really clocked onto it.

"House of Fraser just seems to have lost their core customers.

"I think the building will be turned into high-end apartments, that's where the money is."

Mae Green

Mae Green, 17 and from Shrewsbury, doesn't shop in House of Fraser.

She said: "The only time I can remember buying something from there is when my sister worked there.

"I hope that Zara or Urban Outfitters move into the building when House of Fraser go.

"I guess it wouldn't be for a while though."

Cate McNally

A teacher from Shrewsbury had just come out of the Princess Street entrance to the shop after browsing inside.

Sophie Peach, 50, said she was very surprised to hear the news and that it was a great shame.

"I often walk through and take a look too," she said.

"It's a great shame for the town. It went through a period when it was a bit tired but it had that refurbishment, so it's a real shame.

"I thought it was doing ok."

Cate McNally, from Shrewsbury, said she shops online instead.

The 17-year-old said: "I'd buy from Topshop in store or online instead."

Telford town centre

Margaret Rowley, 61 and from Coven, was very disappointed by the news.

"I thought this was a nice store and I always enjoyed going in there," Mrs Rowley said.

Margaret Rowley from Coven

"My husband told me a number of stores were closing, but I didn't think Telford's would be one of them as it's a fairly new store in a nice location so I'm gutted really.

"Other branches, like the ones in Wolverhampton and Birmingham seem a little rundown so I can see why they chose to close them but I don't think this should be one of the ones they're getting rid of.

"This wasn't my closest store but I always chose to come here for a number of reasons and now I don't know where the nearest one would be."

June Fellows, from Telford, thinks online shopping is reducing footfall

June Fellows, 72, from Telford, said: "I feel so sorry for all the workers in there, it's already so hard to find a job and this is just another example of a high street shop that can't stay open.

"The other thing to consider is what is going to come and fill it - it's a big store with multiple levels so it would have to be something that can sustain that.

"I think online shopping will soon take over as the rents on these places are really high.

"They're meant to be developing these areas but now we could have another empty space for quite a while."

Marcia Jones from Church Stretton

Marcia Jones, 67 and from Church Stretton, is a bigger fan of the cafe than the shopping.

She said: "I didn't tend to buy a lot from the main store, but I always went into the cafe for tea and something to eat.

"I'm retired so I have a lot of time on my hands and I always like going up to the cafe and I would occasionally buy things from the store itself as well.

"It's a shame for the employees as I'm sure there's quite a lot of people who work in even just this branch."

A number of stores, including Telford's branch, opened later than usual this morning while staff held an emergency meeting.

House of Fraser in Telford opened in 2004 and was refurbished in 2011

Claire Thomas, 22 and from Wellington, said: "I used to go in there but I haven't done for a while.

"The stuff they sell seems a little outdated and they could do with having a bit of a rebrand to change the kind of things they do.

"I think they're losing younger customers to other shops so if they did change their style a little it might help."

Gemma Radley, 42 and from Telford, agreed, saying: "I don't really go in there anymore and this whole area of the shopping centre is usually dead.

"People in other shops all around the town are talking about it and I went in there today and I haven't come out with anything."

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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