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The BBC's Karen Hoggan
"C&A hasn't had enough loyal customers"
 real 56k

Saturday, 27 January, 2001, 15:26 GMT
C&A shuts up shop
C&A's Oxford Street outlet
Oxford Street's store saw brisk trading on its last day
High street retailer C&A shut up shop at many of its UK stores for the final time on Saturday.

Bargain hunters grabbed last-minute bargains at the final day's trading.

The company has been operating in the UK for nearly 80 years but falling sales prompted it to announce in June its decision to close its 109 British stores with the loss of 4,800 jobs.

It's a sad day for us all, but there's a lot of smiles among the tears

Bristol store manager Pauline Fowler

Many people will have childhood memories of C&A school blouses and sensible shoes but the store that was once a trademark for economy became outdated.

Savings of up to 75% on clothing and accessories saw customers buying by the basket-load before shops closed at midday on Saturday.

C&A, which was founded by Dutch brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer, opened its first store in London in 1922.

Pauline Fowler, manager of Bristol's Penn Street store, said: "Everyone is very sad, it's a sad day for us all, but there's a lot of smiles among the tears."

Mel Harrington, manager of Reading's Friar Walk store, said: "We have been inundated with customers hunting for those final bargains.

Oxford Street's C&A
A trading tradition of nearly 80 years is ending
"It's been absolutely phenomenal.

"Customers have been fantastic, they have been buying by the basket-load. We have hardly got anything left."

Remaining stock is due to be taken to the Southampton, Bradford, Hounslow and Lewisham stores, which are expected to remain open until the end of April.

Lewisham store supervisor Jayne Watkins said: "There probably won't be much stock coming from the other stores because it is selling out very quickly. We're very busy ourselves."

Trading was brisk for the final day at Oxford Street's flagship store.

Oxford Street's C&A
Bargain hunters arrived early for the final day
Sheila Spillane, who worked for C&A for 39 years before retiring two years ago, returned to the London store to help on the last day.

She said: "I have come here since I was about six for clothes with my mum after the war. It is so so sad."

When the closure announcement was made in June, managing editor Neil McCausland said it had been a difficult decision but the company had racked up 250m of losses in the UK in the past five years.

He said the past five years had seen a dramatic change in the UK's retail industry.

The chain has 577 stores in 12 European countries.

The Brussels-based company, will continue to operate elsewhere in Europe.

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See also:

02 Jun 00 | Business
UK retail prices fall
15 Jun 00 | Business
C&A quits UK
15 Jun 00 | Business
Modest May for shoppers
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