The end for Peter Crisp?

The future of one of the county's major independent department stores is in doubt after its owners announced it could close.

Peter Crisp, in High Street, Rushden, has confirmed it is in consultation with its staff regarding its possible closure.

Managers of the store – celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – say they will do their best to keep it open, but its future will remain uncertain until a formal announcement is made at the beginning of next month.

Owner Julia Roberts said: "A full consultation process is under way with all staff in the hope that the closure of the business can be avoided.

"The consultation will end on October 29 and a final decision will be announced on November 6."

Businesses and shoppers in the town were shocked on hearing the news – describing it as the end of an era.

John Wills, of Wills Department Store and chairman of the Chamber of Trade, said: "We are very upset to hear the news. Peter Crisp is an icon in the town and it will truly be missed if it goes."

Rushden Town Council leader Colin Wright said: "It goes without saying

this would have an impact on the town centre but the town council and East Northamptonshire Council will continue to work on plans to regenerate Rushden for the future."

Eileen Brandes, of Higham Ferrers, added: "It is a landmark. Whatever you want, you can get at Peter Crisp and if they don't have it they will get it for you."

People are not only sad at the possibility of losing a valuable store, but concerned about the impact its closure could have on the town.

There are also fears about how the closure could hit the town generally.

Sue Barnes, who works at Mrs B's Sandwich Emporium, said: "It is bad news for Rushden. People come from out of town to shop at Peter Crisp.

"It is to Rushden what Harrods is to London.

"We will all be very sad if it goes. Rushden won't be the same and I don't know what it will do to the High Street."

Adrian Cooper, 44 of Barnwell Road, Rushden, added:"There are concerns from businesses because Peter Crisp brought a lot of trade into Rushden so they are worried there is going to be a knock-on effect."

Proposals have been put forward that even if the store closes, the kitchen and bathroom side of the business will not close and will continue to trade unaffected.