Published: February 6, 2009
Exclusive: Long-running Burnham shoe shop to close with loss of six jobs

The recession and the high costs of business rates are being blamed by the owner of a long-running Burnham-On-Sea shoe store which announced its closure on Friday afternoon (February 6th).

JPS Footwear, situated on the corner of the High Street and Pier Street, will close with the loss of six jobs on June 6th - exactly 25 years after opening.

Director Geoff Shickle, pictured above, explained to "These are difficult times for all businesses, the retail world in particular."

"We have run a very successful business for a quarter of a century, and closure would not have been considered if escalating costs, beyond our control, were likely to be capped. With a limited growth in sales, a return to profitability looked increasingly remote."

"All of the six staff were briefed on Friday and a clearance sale starts on Saturday (February 7th). We see our closing down sale as the equivalent to a Woolworths in Burnham. With over 10,000 pairs of shoes in stock, there will be bargains."

JPS Footwear has contributed upwards of £250,000 to local authority revenue through business rates - the costs of which have led to its closure.

"Business rates have been the final death knell for us," said Mr Shickle. "We pay over £1,200 a month and, as a ratio against other costs, that is entirely disproprionate."

He added: "The store will be greatly missed by residents and visitors alike, many of whom would make a special detour on their way south during the summer months."

"We would like to thank all our customers who have valued our business over the years. There will be a big gap in Burnham High Street."

Alex Turco, Chairman of Burnham's Chamber of Trade, said he was sorry to hear about the news on Friday.

He told "The Chamber would like to pay tribute to Geoff and Jacqui Shickle and the staff at JPS for their contribution to shopping in Burnham-On-Sea for the last twenty five years and we are very sad to lose a long-standing member."

"We call upon the Town and District Councils to finalise the appointment of the proposed 'Town Development Officer' to help attract new businesses into Burnham into prominent locations such as JPS and the former Job Centre to stimulate the local economy."

JPS Footwear has sold over one million pairs of shoes since opening and has employed more than 200 local people, including many students.

Geoff Shickle is also the owner of Shickle Shoes, also in Burnham High Street, which continues to thrive and is unaffected by the closure of JPS. Its online store here is also continuing.

The store joins a list of several firms in Burnham that have closed in recent months, including French's cafe in College Street, clothing store Dragonsurf in the High Street, and the Burnham photography shop last weekend. However, also recently reported here how some town centre businesses are thriving in the recession.

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