THE looming closure of Carlisle’s House of Fraser store will trigger the departure of the popular Caffe Nero outlet in the same building.

But bosses at the national coffeehouse company stress that they are keen to maintain their presence in the city, and are now actively looking for alternative premises.

It was initially thought that the café could continue to operate from its current ground-floor location within the English Street building. Insiders suggested this may happen despite the planned House of Fraser closure.

Staff at the store refused to comment this week but on Thursday afternoon they put out posters announcing the “closing down” sale and confirming that the store will close in May.

In a statement, Caffe Nero said: “Unfortunately, due to the closure of the House of Fraser store in Carlisle, we are currently scheduled to close our connected store.

"We very much enjoy operating in the town and are actively seeking a premises to be able to remain and continue to serve the community.”

The statement added that it would leave the building at the same time as the main store’s closure.

The decision to close House of Fraser in Carlisle ended months of speculation about the future of store, triggering fresh concerns about the increasing number of empty shops in the city centre.

In particular, there are now several large city centre buildings which are unused.

The closure is the latest in a growing list of retail closures, with other recent casualties including Wilkos in Scotch Street, the nearby former Debenhams building, and Tesco on The Viaduct.

Stanwix Rural parish councillor Paul Nedved said there needed to be a concerted effort to repurpose empty buildings and reinvigorate the city centre, where retailers have – in common with all other town and city centres – faced ever increasing competition from online sellers.

He suggested that rejuvenation could be boosted by a move towards encouraging more residential use of city centre buildings, reversing the trend away from living in town and city centre.

Mr Nedved also pointed to various "positive initiatives" to inject fresh life into town and city centres –such as the Borderlands scheme, the Towns Fund, and the High Street Fund.

Independent Cumberland Council councillor Robert Betton said: “The closure of House of Fraser will be another huge loss for Carlisle, adding to other businesses closures and job losses in the city centre.

"More should be done to encourage businesses to stay in the city centre. But rents are sky high and business rates don’t help. With rising energy costs and all those factors, there should be more done.”