One of the UK’s oldest department stores has announced it is closing its doors because of “challenging times” after trading for more than 240 years.
Eve & Ranshaw, in the market town of Louth, Lincolnshire, has traded continuously since 1781 and is one of the oldest independent, family run department stores in the country.
The business said on Wednesday it was shutting down, with its last day of business on Saturday 4 March and its online shop closing on 30 January.
“It is with a heavy heart that we close after 240 years of service in Louth,” the retailer said in a statement. “In recent years we have faced some challenging times with changes in customer shopping habits, lockdown closures, rising business costs and the current cost of living crisis. Regrettably, it has now reached a point where the department store is no longer viable.”
He asked for “consideration and support” for the staff affected, “some of whom have served the business for decades”.
The store’s owner, Marcus Sandwith, who inherited the business from his father and grandfather, described the announcement as “a really sad day”.
“Before my father died in 2019, I made a promise to him that I would give it my best go, to take things forward,” he told the BBC. “But even then he said you have to see how things go because he knew things were changing with online shopping. We have given it a really good go.”
The store was founded in 1781 by Adam Eve, a farmer’s son, and originally traded in grocery, wool and linen goods.
Over the years it expanded under several owner partnerships, including that of Thomas Ranshaw, who started there as a 13-year-old apprentice, and moved into high-class tailoring and fashion along with home furnishing products and services.
It was bought by Christoper Sandwith and his son, David, in 1977, before it was passed on to David’s son, Marcus.
The doorway of the store, on Market Place in the town centre, features a timeline of the reigns of monarchs during which it has served customers.
Sandwith said the family hoped to continue their guardianship of the Grade-II listed building and would only consider leasing it to businesses that are “community-minded”.
“It has been there for a long time. We want to be the guardians of that building still, and make sure that whoever does come in adds value to Louth,” he said.
Adam Grist, a councilor who is portfolio holder for market towns and rural economy at East Lindsey district council, said: “The department store is a huge part of the history of Louth town center and has been much loved by generations of families over the years . The loss of the store will be felt particularly by the town’s many independent shops and everyone who comes to Louth to shop there.”
In 2015 Eve & Ranshaw appeared on the Channel 4 show The Takeover featuring the Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey, who presided over a revamp aimed at attracting younger customers.
The store said in its statement it “could not have been as successful as it was without the support and loyalty” of its customers, as it thanked the public for “being with our shop in all its ups and downs”.