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Independent DIY chain Godfrey’s to downsize Norwich branch

A well-known independent DIY and furniture retailer is to downsize its Norwich branch to “secure the long-term future of the business.”

The shake-up at family-run Godfrey DIY could lead to up to 20 job loses at its Norwich base.

The company - which also has stores in Diss and Stowmarket - has been trading from its Riverside Road site in Norwich since the company first started in April 1983.

But the Norwich store is currently holding a massive clearance sale as part of preparations to scale down its business in the city.

Managing director Barry Godfrey said the company had needed to react to trading challenges and changing consumer trends and, as a result, in the new year Godfrey’s 15,000 sq. ft. DIY and furniture store in Norwich will be replaced with a Godfrey’s furniture store of about 2,000 sq. ft., and the remainder of the site is planned to be let to other retailers.

The head office will continue to be based in Norwich.

About 26 people are currently employed by Godfrey DIY in Norwich, and Mr Godfrey confirmed a formal redundancy consultation was now taking place. He said the final number of redundancies was yet to be confirmed but that it was possible that, of the 26 positions in Norwich, only six would remain.

There are also expected to be redundancies at the Diss and Stowmarket stores, which will continue to sell both DIY supplies and furniture but will be run with fewer staff. Godfrey DIY currently employs 14 in Diss and 11 in Stowmarket, and Mr Godfrey said up to half of these staff could affected.

Mr Godfrey said: “It is a sad time for everybody who is affected by this. Personally I feel very sad we have had to make this decision but we have had to look to how we can adapt the business. These are challenging times and we very much want to continue to be part of the retail scene in East Anglia and to do that we need to adapt.”

He added: “It’s no secret that our sector in particular has been hit hard. Ongoing economic uncertainty, restricted mortgage lending for first-time buyers and poor weather have had a significant impact on sales. Clearly we must adapt our stores and explore new opportunities.”

He said the slow housing market at the moment was a key reason the business had been put under pressure.

“When there is a buoyant housing market, when people move house, they usually make improvements to their old house to help sell it and then make improvements to their new house,” he said.

“But without a buoyant housing market it has cut the potential for DIY sales.”

He said Norwich had “felt the squeeze” more than the other two stores because there was greater competition from big retailers in the city.

But Mr Godfrey said the business was committed to continuing to be part of the region’s retail scene.

He said: “We’ve survived challenging times before and have every intention of doing so again. Right now, it’s important to take the steps necessary to secure the long-term future of the business.”

Source : Emma Knights – Norwich Evening News

28 December 2012
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