The future of three stores hangs in the balance

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THREE clothes stores in the north of the county could soon close their doors for the last time.

The branches of Bon Marché in Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough are holding sales to get rid of remaining stock before possible closure.

The fashion chain was bought by private equity firm Sun European Partners this week in a deal which will lead to 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures across the country.

A spokesman for Bon Marché said: “We do not have information at a local level – many stores have been issued with sale signs but there is no hard and fast list.

“The company does have a pretty good idea and all store managers and employees are aware of the situation.

“There is no strict time frame in terms of closures but they will be closed within the next couple of months.”

The stores in Gold Street, Kettering, Corporation Street, Corby, and the Swansgate centre in Wellingborough are due to close but the spokesman said the decision is not necessarily final.

While the branches in Kettering and Corby are displaying closing down sale signs, the Wellingborough shop advertises a half-price sale and further reductions in store.

Staff at the store in Kettering have organised a petition which they plan to send to the company’s head office in a desperate effort to avoid closure and save their jobs.

About 600 members of the public have signed the petition since it was launched on Tuesday.

Gill Riddle, of Westhill Drive, Kettering, was shopping at the store yesterday.

She has been using the town’s Bon Marché since it opened in 1997.

She said: “I was very upset to hear the news because they do my sort of clothes and they fit well. They’re a reasonable price too.

“I could go to Marks & Spencer instead but you pay more there.”

Pamela Williamson, also of Kettering, said: “I wasn’t really shocked when I heard it was closing down.

“It’s not surprising with all the shops closing around here at the moment.”