Barretts store in St Neots announces plans to “explore options” regarding its future in the town

St Neots

St Neots - Credit: Archant

A family-run department store in the heart of St Neots has announced that it is “exploring options” regarding its future in the town.

Barretts has instructed Barford and Co to “test the market” to establish interest, and has gone public to avoid speculation that the store, which has been on St Neots High Street for more than 100 years, could be about to close.

“Barretts has changed many times over its 127-year history,” said store director Alan Huckle, “and now’s the time to review our operating structure once more. This does not mean that the store will necessarily change too much, or at all – we just need to consider all options and if appropriate retain flexibility to ensure that the business can continue to operate as efficiently as possible and remain profitable.”

“We have always taken pride in offering something a little different and of good quality to St Neots over the years and it is our hope and intention that this will continue. We wanted to make this announcement to avoid speculation that the store is to close.”

Commercial property specialists Barford will explore various options, including establishing the likely level of demand from other retailers who may want to take up space within this part of St Neots High Street. Dependent upon the outcome of this exercise, Barretts has indicated that it may consider downsizing its store.

Barretts was founded in 1888 and ownership of the business has remained in the same family since 1908. Starting as a small shop on the corner of Market Square and New Street, the store grew and adjoining properties were acquired allowing the business to thrive. By 1991 the store occupied 14,000 sq ft, broadly in the same configuration as it exists today.

The directors of the business have, however, stated that while they intend to retain a presence within the existing building, ultimately it may be appropriate to let some parts of the property. The rental income from such a letting or lettings could help Barretts to continue to operate.

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Phil Halmshaw, director of Agency and Development at Barford + Co said: “We will be inviting enquiries for a range of unit sizes and ground and first floor space configurations. If suitable enquiries are received, the objective will be to then come up with plans for the remodelling of the overall property so that the Barretts store can be accommodated within the plans alongside other retailers”.

The agents have stated that enquiries from retailers with space requirements from 500 sq ft are to be invited.