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Timberland shuts after staff told news on conference call

PUBLISHED: 16:22 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56 23 January 2020

The Norwich branch of Timberland is now closed. Pic: Archant

The Norwich branch of Timberland is now closed. Pic: Archant

A shoe and boot firm has closed in Norwich's Chapelfield leaving 10 staff out of work.

Outdoor clothing and footwear brand Timberland, which has 34 stores across the UK and 230 worldwide, is now closed in Norwich. Staff were told the news in a 15 minute conference call.

Other Timberland stores, including one in Cambridge, remain open. The closures only include Timberland stores run by its franchise partner 73 Retail.

The Norwich store manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was "upset and angry" after being told of the closure by a conference call at the end of the working day on Tuesday.

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A statement was released by Timberland to this newspaper which clarified that the Timberland store at Norwich was under ownership and management of franchise partner 73 Retail.

"This is not a Timberland store closure. The responsibility of the store closure lies with 73 Retail and not Timberland.

"Timberland, together with their longstanding retail partner 73 Retail, have announced the closure of 12 stores across the UK.

"The difficult decision comes after 73 Retail has filed for CVA (company voluntary arrangement) last November due to tough market conditions, industry volatility and business trends, which led the company to close half of the Timberland stores they operate in the UK, alongside other brand stores including The North Face and Havaianas.

"Twelve stores will continue to trade under a new business entity, while 73 Retail will eventually go into administration. In the UK Timberland continues to trade through their 25 own stores across the country and their website www.timberland.co.uk."

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The Norwich branch was immediately closed to the public with a notice on the windows stating "the store is now closed," and giving an email address for customers.

Meanwhile, staff had to clear the premises to return stock to head office.

The manager said: "We understand some Timberland's stores will remain open but only the most profitable ones and unfortunately Norwich is one of the closures - we have ceased trading.

"We knew we were struggling at Christmas but hoped to get another year out of it but on Tuesday I received an email from my head office saying there would be a conference call at 5.15pm. We were then told in 15 minutes that we were to close. I felt angry and upset but that's retail - the retail climate is difficult and the rents are astronomical.

"Timberland is a luxury brand, it's not H&M or Primark, and people are so value-conscious now, they can't afford brands like this. I'm very grateful to the staff who came in to help sort stock and send it back to the head office."

He said people requiring refunds on items bought over Christmas and the January sales were to email the head office.

US-owned Timberland, aimed at 'people intending outdoor use' also sells clothes, watches, glasses and sunglasses. Owners VF Corporation announced a week ago that the company's global brand president Jim Pisani had stepped down from his role to spend more time with his family.

The closure in Norwich's Chapelfield complex is the second this week - following the news that interiors outlet House, situated on the upper ground floor, was also to close.

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