FatFace among the five latest big-name brands to be lost from Preston's ailing high street

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Preston's axed FatFace fashion store is the latest in a string of high-profile departures from the city's ailing high street.

The British fashion retailer is yet to disclose its reasons for shutting its Fishergate store around mid-May, which will put a number of jobs at risk.

It is another blow to the city following a string of closures in the past two years, resulting from the financial pressures of lockdown and the rise of online shopping.

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First to fall was Argos in the Fishergate Centre in 2020 when parent company Sainsbury's began shutting branches across the country to help save around £60m. The store had been shut for half a year following the first national lockdown when Sainsbury’s announced plans to close 120 of its standalone branches, followed by a further 300 closures over the next three-and-a-half years.

Preston's FatFace store in Fishergate will close in May.Preston's FatFace store in Fishergate will close in May.
Preston's FatFace store in Fishergate will close in May.

Debenhams also lost its home in the Fishergate Centre last May when the company went bust after trading for 242 years in the British high street. The brand was sold to online fashion retailer Boohoo for £55m but not the company’s shops.

Some retail experts reacted to the news with hope, believing the city would bounce back. Dr Robin Carey, head of School of Business at UCLan, told the Post he is "more optimistic than most" that Preston can ride-out its big-name shop closures.

But it’s not just the high street that has been hit hard. JTF Mega Discount Warehouse in Pittman Way, Fulwood, closed last July after the company fell into administration. The store sold a variety of goods at bargain prices, including home furnishings, DIY supplies, fireworks, clothes, food and drink. The retailer largely blamed the lack of footfall during the coronavirus lockdowns for its demise.

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Another discount company to hit headlines was Russian supermarket Mere, which announced last month it would close its Miller Road store following the invasion of Ukraine. Known as the “Russian version of Lidl”, the business said it would also halt plans to open more shops by this spring, which were part of a long-term bid to build around 300 British branches within a decade.

Trade magazine The Grocer said Mere’s struggles to establish its business model in the UK - where suppliers are only paid if products sell - have been exacerbated by the financial sanctions on Russian.

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