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Nov 19, 2021
60 stores loved by shoppers that have vanished from Greater Manchester's high street We look back at the big brands that were once staples on the British high street as consumers start their Christmas shopping 06:24, 19 NOV 2021 Subscribe to our daily What's On newsletter to keep up with what's happening around Greater Manchester Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later. Click here We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info Thank you for subscribingWe have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice The well-organised among us will have started their Christmas shopping, but there may be some shops you noticed missing from the high street this November. Some big-name stores have had to close their doors in recent times following further fallout from the pandemic, including the iconic Debenhams department store, which was a one-stop-shop for buying presents at this time of year. After being acquired by Manchester-based fashion retailer Boohoo, they've joined a bunch of other brands with a solely online presence. As Britain's high street goes through rapid change, consumers were warned this week to “think twice” before buying gift cards this Christmas- with almost one in 10 receiving a voucher over the last year for a retailer that has gone bust. Which? surveyed 2,000 consumers to find 7 per cent had received a gift card for a retailer that had gone bust since March 2020. Almost two-fifths (38 per cent) of these consumers were unable to redeem the full balance of their voucher, with an average of £25 left unspent. Despite it being a turbulent few years for UK shops, the online giants continue to see success, with it being announced on Tuesday that Amazon is reportedly planning 260 supermarkets across UK in next three years - but with no tills and no cash accepted. Here, we take a look back at some of the big brands - 58 in total - that were once staples of the UK high street, but have disappeared from Manchester and beyond. Thorntons Thorntons (Image: Birmingham Mail) In March of this year, Thorntons announced its plans to close every single one of its 61 UK stores. Bosses said they were hoping to grow their online customers, though, and remain committed to their 'iconic brand'. There were various Thorntons stores in Manchester - including shops in the Arndale, Trafford Centre, Manchester Fort and Stockport's Merseyway shopping centre. A spokesperson said: "Changing dynamics of the high street, shifting customer behaviour to online, the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and the numerous lockdown restrictions over the last year - especially during our key trading periods at Easter and Christmas - has meant we have been operating in the most challenging circumstances. "Unfortunately like many other retailers, the obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe." Gap The US clothing company closed its stores (Image: Getty Images) At the end of June, Gap announced it was closing all 81 of its UK stores - moving to an online-only model. Next later agreed a deal to run Gap’s business in the UK and Ireland as a franchise partner, but the move didn't spark a return for its high street operations. It sees the two firms form a joint venture – with 51 per cent owned by Next and 49 per cent by Gap – which will see Next operate the US fashion brand’s digital operations, concessions and click and collect service. Mark Breitbard, chief executive officer and president of Gap Global, said: “Gap is partnering with Next, one of the UK’s leading online clothing retailers, to amplify our omnichannel business and meet our customers in UK and Ireland where they are shopping now.” Debenhams Debenhams in Manchester (Image: Adam Vaughan) Debenhams shut its doors for the final time in its 243-year history in May, with its Manchester stores being the last to close. The historic department store chain closed its stores for good after the company collapsed amid the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The retailer had suffered slumping sales in recent years as shoppers moved away from traditional department store models. However, the enforced closure of sites during the pandemic was the final straw, resulting in the company falling into administration within weeks of the virus fully hitting the UK. Debenhams, which employed more than 20,000 people before the pandemic, sold its brand and website to online fast-fashion giant Boohoo for £55 million in January but confirmed its bricks and mortar business would close for good. Topshop and Miss Selfridge Topshop is now online only (Image: Manchester Evening News) In February, Asos announced the takeover of Topshop and three other brands from the collapse of the Arcadia retail empire for £265 million. The online fashion retailer bought Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT. All stores closed as the product moved online. Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Burton Dorothy Perkins didn't survive the pandemic (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne) Boohoo snapped up Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Wallis in February from Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group in a deal that closed 214 shops. The Manchester-based fast-fashion giant paid £25.2million for the brands and websites - but the takeover didn't include physical stores. Laura Ashley Laura Ashley closed its stores (Image: Getty Images) In March of last year, Laura Ashley announced the permanent closure of 70 stores, with 721 employees set to lose their jobs. But from this spring, its home section has been available to buy from Next's 500 UK stores and also via its website. In addition, Laura Ashley also operates its own website. Sign up to the free MEN email newsletter Get the latest updates from across Greater Manchester direct to your inbox with the free MEN newsletter You can sign up very simply by following the instructions here Oasis and Warehouse More than 1,800 jobs were lost after sister fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse said they would not reopen any of their stores again in April 2020. The Oasis Warehouse group, which had 92 branches and 437 concessions at department stores, had been owned by failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Administrators for Kaupthing attempted to dispose of the brands in 2017 but held on after failing to secure a buyer. The brands themselves needed administrators and wound up their retail store business after failing to find last-minute suitors. Nevertheless, the brands have had a new lease of life online after Boohoo bought them to sell through its website. Cath Kidston Cath Kidston has moved online (Image: PA) Last April, Cath Kidston permanently shut its 60 UK stores with the loss of more than 900 jobs. The fashion retailer confirmed its stores will not reopen once the coronavirus lockdown is over after the company’s owners secured a deal to buy back its brand and online operations following its fall into administration. Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA), which has held a stake in the retailer since 2014, said it would buy the online business, brand and wholesale arm from administrators Alvarez & Marsal. Its products are available on its website. TM Lewin Formal menswear sales dived after the pandemic struck, weighing on already troubled retailer TM Lewin. Early in 2020, the company was bought by Stonebridge Private Equity through its subsidiary Torque Brands. Just two months later, the new owners revealed plans to close the 122-year-old firm’s entire network of 66 shops, including the one on Manchester's King Street, with the loss of around 600 jobs. The group said it was switching all sales to the internet in a bid to save the brand in the post-Covid retail environment. Mothercare A former branch of Mothercare (Image: Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror) The health, beauty, and baby products chain was 2020's first major casualty, shutting the doors of its UK stores for good after 59 years. Mothercare’s UK business collapsed with the loss of 2,500 jobs and 79 stores after failing to secure a rescue deal. The company underwent a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring in 2018, shutting a raft of stores, but tumbled into administration a year later after failing to turn around its fortunes. Mothercare still sells its products in the UK through Boots stores and has a franchise operation overseas. Beales Closed down Beales in Rochdale (Image: Manchester Evening News) The 139-year-old department store chain opened its doors for the final time in March 2020, as the pandemic started to have an impact on retailers. Beales, which was located in Rochdale's shopping centre, tumbled into administration, announcing plans to shut 12 of its 23 outlets, as talks with potential buyers faltered. The company employed approximately 1,050 people before announcing its first closures. However, the coronavirus crisis speeded its demise, with the group shutting its final stores weeks earlier than planned after the outbreak meant sales took a nosedive. Disney Manchester lost its Disney stores in the Arndale and Trafford Centre in September. Stephanie Young, president of consumer products games and publishing, said at the time: "While consumer behaviour has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer. "Over the past few years, we’ve been focused on meeting consumers where they are already spending their time, such as the expansion of Disney store shop-in-shops around the world. "We now plan to create a more flexible, interconnected ecommerce experience that gives consumers easy access to unique, high-quality products across all our franchises." Thomas Cook Thomas Cook ceased trading in September 2019 after mounting debts forced it into liquidation. Its demise put more than 20,000 jobs at risk, including 9,000 in the UK, and left 150,000 Brits stranded abroad - with 600 high street stores shutting down. Oliver Sweeney Shoe retailer Oliver Sweeney shuttered all its stores for good after hiring administrators last summer. The company closed its five stores, in London, Manchester and Leeds, but said it would continue to operate online. Chief executive Tim Cooper said he would continue to lead the business, adding that he was “disappointed” about the store closures but was “confident” about shifting the group online. Carphone Warehouse Carphone Warehouse (Image: Stuart Vance/ReachPlc) In March 2020, technology retail giant Dixons Carphone wielded the axe on its Carphone Warehouse chain, closing all of its UK stores. The move hit 531 outlets across the country and almost 3,000 workers. However, the group said some 1,800 affected staff would be given new roles elsewhere in the business. The company’s 70 Carphone Warehouse stores in Ireland remained open and its international operations were unaffected. However, the move reflected a sharp decline in the Carphone Warehouse brand after its £3.8 billion “merger of equals” with Dixons in 2014. Evans Plus-size clothing brand Evans became the first in the Arcadia stable to be bought out of retail giant’s administration process. However, the group’s £23 million takeover by Australian group City Chic did not include its bricks and mortar business. As a result, Evans said it would not reopen its five remaining UK stores. Dolcis Dolcis (Image: Liverpool Echo) The high street shoe store had 65 branches in the UK at the end of 2007 - but were operating at a loss of £6 million annually. By January 2008, the company had fallen into administration with 800 staff members losing their jobs. Ratners Jewellers Ratners (Image: Mirrorpix) Following then-chief executive Gerald Ratner's infamous speech where he referred to the wares in the stores as 'total cr*p', the value of the Ratner group plummeted by around £500 million and nearly resulted in the total collapse of the firm. After Ratner was fired by the new chairman in 1992, the group quickly changed its name to Signet. It continues to trade internationally, but closed 80 stores after lockdown, including branches of H Samuel and Ernest Jones. American Apparel The Los Angeles-based fashion brand was based on Market Street. The Sweater Shop Sweater shop logo (Image: Daily Record) Their garish jumpers were the height of fashion in the late 80s and early 90s but it folded in 1998, leading to the closure of 78 high street stores. Warner Bros. Studio Store The Warner Bros Studio Store in Manchester Arndale (Image: @manarndale | Twitter) Visits to the Arndale Centre store were a rite of passage for many nineties Manc kids, but the treasure trove of film and TV memorabilia shut up shop in 2001. C&A C&A (Image: Birmingham Post and Mail) This high street fashion store, which was a firm high street favourite for over 75 years, withdrew from the UK in June 2000 closing all 113 stores, with the loss of 4,800 jobs. Rumbelows Rumbelows (Image: Mirrorpix) This electronics retailer once rivalled the likes of Curry's and Comet, selling and renting out TVs and video players, and were so big they sponsored the English Football League Cup from 1990 to 1992. But Rumbelows' reign came to an end in 1995 with 100 shops shutting completely, and a further 200 rebranded under the Radio Rentals brand. Virgin Megastores Originally opened by Richard Branson as a small record shop in 1971, it became a national chain, but by 2007 all of the 125 stores were rebranded as Zavvi. Sadly, on Christmas Eve 2008, Zavvi went into administration, following the collapse of Woolworths. Our Price Our Price (Image: Daily Mirror) The iconic chain of record stores was a staple on the British high street from 1971 till 2004, with over 300 shops at its peak. Our Price was subsequently owned by Virgin, Brazin and Primemist but the company eventually went into administration in 2003. By 2004 all stores had closed, resulting in 400 job losses. Wimpy Customers enjoying a lunchtime burger at a Wimpy restaurant (Image: Mirrorpix) In the 80s, this iconic burger chain was the ultimate place to have a birthday party, with nearly 400 branches in the UK. But the chain has slowly been disappearing from the high street, with just 67 restaurants in Britain, down from over 500 during its height in the 1970s. Lewis's Lewis's department store in 1949 (Image: Manchester Council) One of the first department stores, the Manchester branch even had a full-scale ballroom on the fifth floor. The company went into administration in 1991 which resulted in Liverpool competitor Owen Owen buying up several branches of Lewis's, but keeping the name. The Manchester store finally closed in 2001 and now homes the huge Primark on Market Street. Pauldens Opening in the 1860s, Pauldens offered a completely new and luxurious shopping experience. Following damage in the Manchester Blitz, it was resurrected and became a direct rival of Lewis's department store. Debenhams eventually took over and re-branded Pauldens. BHS BHS, Market Street (Image: Manchester Evening News) After an 88-year stint on the high street, BHS department stores closed for the final time in 2016 with debts of £1.3million. Littlewoods Littlewoods (Image: Liverpool ECHO) Littlewoods started out as a retail and football betting company founded in Liverpool in the early 1920s. By the 1980s, it had grown to become the largest private company in Europe, but subsequently declined in the face of increased competition from rivals and the Internet. The original company – employing 4,000 people – was wound up in 2005; however, its brand name is retained by The Very Group as the online retailer Littlewoods.com. Index Index, the catalogue store Once a rival to Argos, Index catalogue stores were owned by Littlewoods and were a well-known retailer through the 80s and 90s. But sales began to decline in the early 2000s, which eventually led to the sale of the shops - which were then purchased by GUS plc - the then-owner of the Argos brand - in 2005. Around eight hundred employees of Index were transferred to Argos. Ciro Citterio Ciro Citterio (Image: BPM) Ciro Citterio, the menswear retailer, had over 100 stores in 2001. It managed to survive liquidation three times before closing for good in 2005. Greenwoods Greenwoods Menswear (Image: Daily Post Wales) Historic menswear chain Greenwoods collapsed in January 2019 - less than 18 months after it was first rescued from administration in a deal which promised to save 40 of its 63 stores. The firm was founded around 160 years ago - peaking in the 1990s with around 200 stores nationwide. Woolworths The iconic high street store closed for good in 2008, with more than 27,000 people losing their jobs. It was the biggest collapse of the decade. Tandy Tandy was where people flocked to buy their first computer in the 80s and 90s. The brand actually started out as a leather company in the US in 1919, before moving into electronics in the 60s when it was acquired by RadioShack. It was then taken on by Woolworths in 2001, but was phased out 10 years later. Tandy still exists online. Etam, which had a younger counterpart Tammy Girl, was an iconic wardrobe brand. The last store closed in 2005, and while there has been no sign of the tween-dream store Tammy coming back, Etam has since relaunched online, specialising in lingerie and swimwear. Safeway Safeway (Image: john james) Once a well-known high street supermarket, Safeway was closed in November 2005 after being taken over by rivals Morrisons, renaming the bulk of the stores under its own brand. Gateway Gateway, a chain of small to medium-sized supermarkets was previously owned by Kwik Save. The company was taken over by the Co-op in 2009 in a £1.57billion deal, creating the UK's fifth-largest food retailer. Somerfield was renamed Co-op in a rolling programme of store conversions which ended in summer 2011. Netto Lidl and Aldi are still going strong, but Netto was swallowed by Asda (Image: Birmingham Post and Mail) One of the first major discount supermarkets, Netto arrived in the UK in December 1990, opening almost 200 stores nationwide by 2010. It was later sold to Asda, in a bid to increase its smaller store portfolio. Threshers Threshers Well-known for its cheap booze and deals, Threshers Wine Shop closed its doors for good in 2009 with all 391 stores shutting and 2,140 redundancies across the UK. Radio Rentals Ryan Giggs promotes Radio Rentals, 1998 (Image: Daily Mirror) At its peak, Radio Rentals said it had more than 2 million customers, over 500 shops and employed 3,600 technicians, 2,700 skilled installers - plus a large ancillary staff. But, as appliances became cheaper, the need to rent plummeted and Radio Rentals ceased trading before merging to form Boxclever. The Gadget Shop Gadget Shop (Image: Publicity Picture) The Gadget Shop - home of quirky gifts and gadgets - folded in 2005, putting 620 people out of work after the boom in online shopping. WHSmith bought the brand in 2010 and now sells a range of Gadget Shop branded products. Jane Norman Jane Norman (Image: Birmingham Post and Mail) The fashion retailer closed its 89 UK stores in June 2011 after failing to find a buyer for the struggling business. Despite peaking in the 1990s, selling clothes to 16-25 year olds, the brand failed to maintain its popularity through the turbulent noughties. Borders Borders (Image: Daily Record) An American import, Borders was a huge hyper market of books and usually had a Paperchase and a Starbucks hidden inside too. But, with the advent of online retailers and super-cheap and super-fast booksellers like Amazon, Borders was forced to close its doors in 2009. Comet Comet (Image: Publicity Picture) It went into administration in 2012. Kookai Kookai (Image: john james) A brand synonymous with 90s schoolgirls, this French company was a must-have brand for trendy teens. However the brand struggled to make a profit through the late-noughties recession and withdrew from the UK in 2013. JJB Sports JJB Sports (Image: CT) A major sports brand , JJB went from one being one of the UK's largest sellers of sportswear to bankruptcy in just five years. After administrators were appointed, Sports Direct acquired several of its stores, the brand and the website. Blockbuster An outdated model: Blockbuster Video (Image: Daily Record) The movie and video game rental company came to the UK in 1989 after buying the 875-store Ritz Video chain. By 2012 it had 528 stores across Britain. But competition from Netflix, Lovefilm and on-demand services led to the demise of the brand, which fell into administration in January 2013. Despite attempts to rescue the company, Blockbusters was no more by December that year. Phones 4U Phones 4U (Image: Birmingham Mail) Phones 4U worked with service providers to offer deals on tariffs and handsets, and was a major player in the mobile phone market. But the firm collapsed in in 2014, after mobile operators cut ties with the brand. Maplin Maplin (Image: LIVERPOOL ECHO) Once a leading electrical brand, Maplin fell into administration in early 2018 with the falling pound and post-Brexit decline in consumer confidence hitting sales hard. When the last store closed its doors that summer, over 2,300 staff were made redundant. PoundWorld Poundworld, Rochdale (Image: Manchester Evening News) Despite the popularity of discount retailers, Poundland struggled with the competition from rival stores and the company was forced into administration in August 2018, with all 335 branches across the UK closing their doors for good. The closures led to more than 5,000 job losses. Stationery Box and Partners With stores located up and down the country Stationery Box could be found as far north as Scotland right down to Cornwall, and the famous stationers was a go-to for essential office items and back-to-school products. It was merged with fellow stationer Partners in 2007 to create the chain Ryman, which still exists today. Toys R Us Toys R Us (Image: BPM) The famous toy shop closed its doors for the final time in 2018 after the struggling firm was unable to find a buyer for its 100 UK stores. It was suggested the collapse was caused by changes in consumer spending habits and a squeeze on household disposable income. Bay Trading The Bay Trading Company (Image: Neil Pugh) Aimed at the 19-35 ladieswear market, Bay became a major fashion retailer in just 15 years of trade. At the start of 2009 the brand had over 100 high street stores plus over 100 concessions. But, by April 2009 the company was placed into administration, with around 1,000 job losses. Berketex Berketex Bride (Image: Nottingham Post) Bridalwear business Berketex went into administration in the latter part of November 2018 leaving 15 branches, hundreds of orders and many Debenhams concessions in limbo. The 50-year-old chain ceased trading with immediate effect - leaving customers devastated.