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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 14:28 GMT
Historic shops sold in 5m deal
Joplings Sunderland
More than 300 people work at Joplings and Robbs
Two of the north-east of England's best known department stores have been sold off in a 5m deal.

Perfume retailer, Merchant Retail, has sold its Joplings sites in Sunderland and Hexham, safeguarding more than 300 jobs, for the time being.

But new owner, department store operator Owen Owen, warned there would be "a number of redundancies".

Founded in 1804, Joplings, which sells furniture, clothes and electrical goods has suffered a recent decline in sales.

'Right home'

The Sunderland store and Robbs-branded outlet in Hexham have been sold as going concerns and their 324 staff will stay on for now.

The move will allow Merchant Retail to focus on its perfume stores and its de Gruchy department store in Jersey.

In a statement, Merchant Retail said the businesses will transfer to their new Liverpool-based owner at the end of February.

Merchant Retail chief executive Philip Newton said: "We are delighted that the sale has secured the future of both the Joplings Sunderland store and Robbs of Hexham, but disappointed that there will be some redundancies and I am very sad that we are leaving the business.

"But at least we found the right home for it. It will prosper from here.

"I am sad to be severing my connection with all the great people from there. It's been a great experience working with those people for the last 11 years."

In the last financial year, the two stores returned an operating profit of 2m.




SEE ALSO:
High hopes for future of stores
17 Nov 04 |  England
Jobs fears as stores to be sold
12 Jul 04 |  England


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