Mister Ray set to close Kettering shop after 33 years

An iconic Kettering shop will close its doors for the last time in December after 33 years of trading in the town.

Tuesday, 1st November 2016, 5:04 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:38 pm
Kettering, Mister Ray: Ray Hills, and his daughter Anna Sye. 03/09/13 ENGNNL00120130309105401

Mister Ray’s has sold its Market Place premises to restaurant chain Wildwood, which put in plans to convert the store earlier this year.

The store, which sells everything from wool to net curtains, will close on December 17.

And Mister Ray himself, 81-year-old Ray Hills, says he will be sad to shut up shop.

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He said: “We got a call out of the blue asking if we wanted to sell up but we didn’t put it on the market.

“It was a situation where we looked at it and re-looked at it.

“We came here in 1983 and since then the town centre has completely changed but we’ve kept going.

“It’s been challenging but we’ve always risen to the challenge despite constant rumours that we would close.

“I love it here and will really miss the customers, many who have come through our doors for quite a while.”

The store currently employs eight part-time staff and Mr Hills says they are one big family.

He added: “Most of our staff have been here for 20-plus years. Even the new girl has been here for six years.

“We’ve still been making enough to earn a living and even with other shops popping up people still come to us because of the quality.

“What people don’t realise is how big this shop is, you can do so much with it.”

The shop is run by a number of Mr Hills’ family including wife Diana, 77, and daughter Anna Sye among others.

Mrs Sye acts as a buyer and says it was a real “head versus heart decision”.

She said: “We looked at the situation and it came down to a number of things, both personal and business.

“It’s going to be really sad when we go but we have absolutely loved it.

“It’s been a great priviledge to be on Kettering’s High Street and we must say thank you to all of our customers.”

It is only the premises that is being sold, and not the business, but Mrs Sye added that they are unlikely to look for new premises.

If the Wildwood plans get the go-ahead there would be a Mediterranean restaurant on the ground floor with an exclusive diners cinema and bar upstairs.

It would create 10 full-time jobs and eight part-time jobs.