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Shop closes after 227 years on Norwich high street

PUBLISHED: 09:41 01 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:21 02 July 2018

Loose's Cookshop in Red Lion Street, which has closed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Loose's Cookshop in Red Lion Street, which has closed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

One of Norfolk's best-known retail names is starting a new chapter after its store in Norwich had its last day of trading.

Loose's Cookshop in Red Lion Street, which has closed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLoose's Cookshop in Red Lion Street, which has closed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Loose’s Cookshop can trace its history in Norwich back to 1791 but on Saturday it closed its Red Lion Street shop with its owners to turn their attention to building a new business online.

Speaking in April Bruce Crane, whose family is just the second to own the shop in more than 200 years, said: “We are still a profitable and well run business, and we are taking the decision now because we are not being pushed into it.

“We look ahead, and if we look at the pattern, it is clear. Footfall continues to decline and turnover follows footfall, so when you project forward you can see what’s going to happen.

“Even with the most clever marketing skills, we’ve not got the weaponry to change the fundamentals of what’s going on in the high street.”

After Loose’s, Mr Crane and his wife Claire-Louise will launch a new business, The Knife Expert, to build upon their decades of expertise in knife handling, sharpening and repair.

It will capitalise on Loose’s existing links with some of the world’s best-known knife manufacturers, who refer customers to the Norwich company for all non-warranty repairs nationally. Knife work currently makes up around a quarter of the shop’s half-million pound turnover.

Loose’s was opened in Magdalen Street in 1791 by Jimmy Loose, and has been in the ownership of just two families over the following 227 years.

It remained with the founding family until 1933, when it was bought by Gerald Brett, and began specialising in china and glass.

That expertise was called upon during the Second World War, when children were evacuated from London to Great Yarmouth and Loose’s was called upon to supply 20,000 cups at just 24 hours’ notice.

The shop in Magdalen Street was completely gutted by a bomb in 1942, but Mr Brett rebuilt the business on the same site.

Mr Brett’s son, Michael, took over the shop in 1990. The Red Lion Street premises were bought in 1999 and the cookshop opened in 2000, before current owner Bruce Crane bought the retail business from his uncle in 2004, having been involved since 1985.

Though the former shop in Magdalen Street is still known as Loose’s Emporium, it is no longer connected to the cookshop and is not affected by its closure.

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