Fenwick has announced the closure of the 130-year-old New Bond Street store. The department store confirmed that it has agreed to sell the five storey building to property firm Lazari Investments for a reported £430 million.
In a statement, the company explained: "Amid the turbulent economic environment, fresh capital investment is required in order to return the business to profitable growth." The retailer was set up by the Fenwick family in 1882 with the Bond Street store opening in 1891.
The iconic store will remain open until 2024 before closing its doors for good. Fenwick’s chairman, Simon Calver, told the Times newspaper: “Decisions like this are always difficult but it is absolutely the right thing for the business. This was about what we need to do to ensure the business is on a really strong financial footing and can survive for another 140 years.”
The sale is set to allow for further investment in their other stores such as their flagship on Northumberland Street in Newcastle which posted sales of £240 million for the year to January 2022. However, it also suffered a £5 million pre-tax loss as Covid restrictions forced it to temporarily close its stores.
Fenwicks said it didn’t have plans for further store closures and would seek to redeploy Bond Street staff at other stores where possible. The Fenwicks brand has made major closures over the past decade including in Leicester and Windsor.
The move would see Fenwick’s physical presence on the high street down to eight department stores including Newcastle, Kingston, Brent Cross, Colchester, Canterbury, Bracknell, Tunbridge Wells and York alongside its growing online platform.
The news comes two months after Fenwick published its latest accounts, covering the year ended January 28 2022. The report showed they had narrowed its operating losses to £18.3m, and net sales showed “considerable improvement”, rising 69% to £201.3m. But amid the current economic environment, it said that fresh capital investment was needed to return the business to profitable growth.
CEO John Edgar spoke on the report saying: “The capital injection from this transaction will put Fenwick in a much stronger position to grow its online business and concentrate on cementing our position as the home of excellent hospitality and a premium retail edit. After considering a range of different options, it was decided that selling the Bond Street property is the right course of action to set us on the strongest possible footing for the future.”
Calver also said: “This year Fenwick marked 140 years as a successful British retailer, and this deal will enable the business to continue to serve communities in stores and online for many years to come. The sale has been a difficult decision for the Fenwick family, who are committed to providing the business with the means to thrive for the long term. Their support will enable the next stage of the journey for the Fenwick family business.”