Lewis’s, Liverpool’s oldest department store, is closing down after more than 150 years of trading.
Vergo Retail, the parent company of Lewis’s, made the announcement yesterday and it is expected that around 300 employees will lose their jobs.
David Thompson, Managing Director of Vergo Retail, said: “It is with great regret that we have to announce the closure of Lewis’s store, as our lease with Merepark expires in June.”
The building’s owner, Merepark, plans to create a £160m Central Village around the store which will include new hotels, shops, restaurants and leisure space.
The ambitious redevelopment of the building means that trading from it would not be possible. However, talks are continuing between Merepark and Vergo Retail about possible space within any new development. No new lease has been agreed at this stage.
“Our main priority is the future welfare of our dedicated and loyal staff, and we will be working closely with local agencies to offer them as much support and information as possible over the coming weeks,” added Mr Thompson.
The famous shop closing signifies then end of more than just
the department store; events put on every year like the
Christmas grotto will also end. The nude statue was also a
well-known venue for blind dates, as people watching opposite
could see from across the street and change their minds.
Joe Mulligan, 64, from Aigburth, said: “I used to go to the grotto
every year with my parents and brother, it was always one of
our favourite things about Christmas. I’m sad I won’t get to visit
it anymore or take my grandkids to it. It must be bad for all
those people who lost their jobs, but Liverpool is losing part of
its heritage too. ”
Not everyone is sad to see the retail store go, however.
Matt Wooley, 28, from Wallasey, said: “Companies like this think that being established is enough are wrong, they should have moved on with the times. I feel for the people who are going to lose their jobs, but being successful is so much more than just being a well-known name.”
Siobhan O’Connor, 36, from Anfield, said: “It’s been closing down for as long as I can remember really, but it is a shame. I guess it’s ‘Dicky’ [the statue] that really matters, as long as he stays around I’m not really bothered if the shop is there or not.”
The iconic building on Ranelagh Street opened for the first time in 1856 by David Lewis. This week it will begin massive sales to get rid of the £5m worth of stocks and eventually close its doors for the last time.
By Sam Rogers, Website Editor
More from JMU Journalism
Liverpool’s only Independent Department Store has been a city favourite for more than 150 years.
Lewis's, as it was meant to look after redevelopment (picture courtesy of Flickr)