Lloyds Pharmacy in St Neots is the latest High Street business to announce its closure after mixed results for retailers and businesses over the Christmas and new year period.
The pharmacy chain, which is owned by Celesio UK, announced last October that it would be closing 190 of its “commercially unviable” branches and blamed changes to government policy for the decision. The branch, at 27 High Street, will close on March 12.
Cormac Tobin, the company’s managing director, told the Chemist and Druggist website, the decision had “not been taken lightly”, but was “necessary” for the business “to adapt to the changing landscape”.
Anil Sharma, owner of the independent Loves Farm Pharmacy, described the announcement as “detrimental to the pharmacy profession”.
“Anything that makes it more difficult for people to access our services is bad news for the industry. Pharmacies provide a huge range of services these days, it is not just about prescriptions, we provide advice and services that are helping to bridge the gap between social care and health services and promote independent living. We deal with GPs and carers and other health professionals and provide a vital service to the community.”
The Lloyds announcement follows the closure of W.Johnson jewellers which closed on December 31 after trading for more than half a century on St Neots High Street.
Dennis Johnson was unable to sell the business as a going concern but he confirmed to The Hunts Post that it had been sold and would be operating as a business.
According to the Office for National Statics (ONS) growth in retail spending nationally in the run-up to Christmas was just 1.9 per cent, the lowest annual growth since 2013.
Nationally, there was not much to celebrate, with Mothercare, which closed its Huntingdon store last February, issuing a profits warning earlier this month, but Beales department store and Premier Travel, in St Neots, had some good news to report.
Beales saw a 4.2 per cent year-on-year sales increase during the six weeks before Christmas.
The company’s chief executive, Tony Brown, said: “Against a backdrop of retailers announcing challenging store sales, Beales is pleased to report a Christmas sales increase of 4.2 per cent on the previous year for continuing trading stores over the critical six-week period. Further more we are seeing strong customer reaction to our January sale which continues to see significant growth on the year.
We were particularly pleased as our sales were not achieved on the back of increases from online sales given we have a fledging transactional site only launched in November, therefore the web did not have a material effect, we are only reporting store sales. We would like to pay tribute to everyone who helped to make this Christmas successful.”
There was more good news for Premier Travel, which experienced its busiest start to the new year with a 16 per increase in sales in the first five days of January.
Paul Waters, Premier Travel director, said: “We can put our new year trading success down to a combination of people wanting security in case something goes wrong, and a continuing trend of booking summer holidays as early as possible to snap up the best prices and take advantage of low deposits. These early signs are really encouraging for us.”