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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Two retailers in talks over buying Carlisle's Hoopers store

Two retailers continuing in talks with Hoopers to buy its iconic Carlisle building when the store closes in June.

Thousands of shoppers have joined a spending frenzy since its closing down sale launched on Friday, a day earlier than expected.

Managing director Anne Horton said she was astonished at the numbers of people who crowded through the doors.

“It would have been nice to have seen more of the people who came for the sale shopping with us before,” she said.

“We opened at 1pm on Friday and we were astonished at how many people found out we’d started the sale a day early.

“At one point, the store was so packed, we had to limit the number of people coming in. The trading was far beyond our expectations.”

She said a tentative closing date of June 23 had been decided by the owners, who also have stores in Torquay, Harrogate, Tunbridge Wells and Wilmslow.

“We have two options we’re looking at with store retailers,” she added. “Until something is firmed up, we can’t say anymore.”

There are 83 staff at risk of losing their jobs, which does not include those working for concessions within the store.

Hoopers is training staff on interview techniques and helping them to create CVs. Talks are ongoing with other county employers and some suitable vacancies have been identified.

A clearly emotional Miss Horton added: “For me personally, it is very difficult because the staff here are fantastic. The response from staff to the news was mixed, they are very upset but they are also supportive and understanding.

“We looked at all sorts of product options to carry the store forward but footfall was the issue.”

Hoopers took over the building from Bulloughs six years ago, just ahead of the economic downturn.

The Castle Street store is understood to have racked up six figure losses.

“Had we opened a store anywhere in the county in 2006, it would have been the same,” said Miss Horton.

The news is the latest blow to the city’s retail sector, which last month lost the long-established furniture store Chapmans on Victoria Viaduct and high-end fashion store Jaeger in Green Market.

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