Blow for town as jeweller becomes latest independent trader to announce closure

A Freeman in High Street, St Neots. Picture: GOOGLE

A Freeman in High Street, St Neots. Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: Archant

A third-generation jeweller in St Neots says a drop in footfall in the town and the impact of the internet means he has no choice but to close his business.

Julian Freeman, owner of High Street-based A Freeman, launched a closing down sale on Tuesday and the shop will close for the final time when all his remaining stock is sold.

A Freeman will become the third family-owned independent business to announce its closure in the last six months, following the decisions by Barretts and Fishers to leave the town.

Mr Freeman, who joined the business in 1978 after leaving school, said it was a decision he had not taken lightly.

He told The Hunts Post: “There has been a real decline in footfall in the town since 2012, it has been getting worse and worse and the internet has also taken its toll on the High Street.

“I have not taken the decision lightly. My children wanted me to see it through to the 100th anniversary but there is no way that is going to happen. I had to make the decision, and it was a very tough one to make.

“I never thought it would end this way but that’s the way it is now. It’s a very sad end. I’ve given my whole life to the business but I have to be sensible, I couldn’t continue to support it.”

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The shop’s three staff will be made redundant upon its closure.

A Freeman was opened by Julian’s grandfather in 1920, before being taken on by his father and uncle, Peter and James Freeman, after the war. Julian believes it is among the oldest family jewellers in Cambridgeshire.

Barretts closed its doors for the final time at the end of January after more than 100 years in St Neots High Street, with the owners also citing a drop in foot fall in the town. The owner of Fishers hard-ware, Arthur Taylor, said his store is scheduled to close at the end of the month.