Almost 20 jobs will be lost when a major clothing shop closes its Huntingdon High Street branch after 20 years.

Next has said it will close its Huntingdon branch on Friday, January 17, after failing to move into a bigger store, believed to be the vacant Comet site in Huntingdon Retail Park.

It claims Huntingdonshire District Council was against the move from the town centre – HDC has refused to comment.

A spokesman for the retailer said the store had outgrown its current premises because customers were asking to buy from its range of children's clothing and home goods.

She said 19 people worked in the branch.

BID Huntingdon manager Katy Sismore said: “We are aware of the issue and are in direct contact with Next.

“I cannot comment any further at present, but rest assured all efforts are being made to both attract new businesses to the town and protect existing ­businesses where possible.

“We are aware that the developers of the town centre scheme are also working hard to achieve the same goal and that they are in discussion with a number of prime retailers.

“Clearly, it is disappointing if any ­business closes. However, it is my understanding that Next does wish to remain in Huntingdon, and should it make any ­decision in relation to its existing store, we very much hope it would be temporary.”

An HDC spokesman said: “No formal application has been made for this proposal.”

Workman Retail, which manges the property, was unable to provide a comment by the time The Hunts Post went to press last night (Tuesday).

Huntingdon town centre currently has 14 empty units, including the former Level 2 nightclub and the Falcon pub, but Boots Opticians will be moving into the former Santander bank in the near future.