House of Fraser will close its department store on Guildford High Street for good next month.
The store started putting up ‘Closing Down’ signs during business hours on Tuesday, August 1 as customers were still shopping in-store.
The signs advertised a 20 per cent off clearance sale as the store enters its final month and encouraged shoppers to venture online.
House of Fraser is one of the biggest businesses on Guildford High Street, covering an area of approximately 185,000 square feet.
Its rooftop is home to the Jellicoe Heritage Roof Garden, designed and installed by the late Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe in 1958 for the former Harvey’s Department Store, and holds a Grade II listing with English Heritage.
Customers can also enjoy the Tea Terrace Restaurant on the fifth floor.
House of Fraser has almost halved in size from 59 stores to 31 since its £90 million purchase by business tycoon and Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley in August 2018.
The so-called “Harrods of the High Street” has been in rapid decline in recent months, with stores closing in Leeds, Huddersfield, Norwich and Westfield (London) to name a few.
And it represents bad news for Guildford’s struggling high street, where a borough council report recently revealed 13.5 per cent of retail units were vacant in the town in March 2022, more than double the percentage in May 2019.
But Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford Business Improvement District, believes it is just a sign of the changing face of UK high streets.
She said: “This is another part of the evolution of our high streets. Just because we see a closure, it doesn’t mean it will remain so. Retail and leisure offerings constantly change to reflect and meet the needs of the consumers.
“Our job now is to support the team there and highlight other work opportunities for them available in the town centre. We will help in any way we can.”
By Natasha Cocksedge