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Two town institutions set to shut doors for good as Prestons and Beales wave goodbye to Bolton

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Whats Bolton town centre going to look like at this rate? Lots of empty shops and the number will keep growing.
Why wasn't money offered to keep these long standing Bolton landmark shops open instead of giving it to the ambulance chasers at Asons?

TWO Bolton retail institutions are set to close their doors for good — starting with the iconic Prestons of Bolton which will shut on New Year’s Eve.

The famous jewellery store, nicknamed the Diamond Centre of the North announced it would be closing in September and has confirmed that its last day of trading will be on Saturday, December 31.

The people of Bolton were shocked when the news of Prestons closure was announced, with hundreds contacting The Bolton News to express their sadness and share their memories of the iconic shop.

After a brief closure at the start of September, Prestons reopened and launched a closing down sale, with scores of items retailing with at up to 60 per cent off retail prices.

This proved a popular decision and when the sale started more than 100 people braved the cold and wintry conditions to queue up around the famous Timeball building in Deansgate in a bid to grab a bargain and a piece of Bolton’s history.

That sale will come to an end at 4pm on New Year’s Eve and with it the curtain will fall on a business that first opened in Bolton in 1869.

Sue Meade, who has been the store manager for the past 20 years said; “The last few months have been very bitter sweet for all of us at Prestons of Bolton.

“We are so sad that the store is closing, but it has been absolutely wonderful to have the opportunity to meet with so many customers, both old and new.

“We are now entering our final week, and there are still some amazing bargains to be had, so please come and see us before we finally close our doors.

“I feel so privileged to have been a part of this store for the last 20 years. I don’t think there will be a dry eye in the house come 4pm on the December 31.”

Prestons was not the only iconic Bolton store to announce it would be ending its time in the town this year.

In July, bosses at department store Beales, also based in Deansgate, confirmed the shop would cease trading in January.

Like Prestons, the news was met with sadness from shoppers who spoke of fond memories of the store both in its time as Beales and in its former guise as Whitakers of Bolton.

Bolton Council’s executive member for development and regeneration, Cllr Ebrahim Adia said the authority shares that sadness, but must look for new ways to bring businesses to the town.

He said: “We are very sad that Beales and Prestons of Bolton will soon be closing their doors. It is a loss to the town centre and, in part, reflects changing consumers habits, which includes making much greater use of online purchasing.

“As part of our Town Centre Strategy, we have done everything we can to keep Beales open and we will use our best endeavours to find new tenants for the vacated buildings.

“We are witnessing very good interest in the town centre from retailers and investors as a result of the new cinema and restaurants in the Market Place as well as the new transport interchange. We therefore hope it won't be too long before new retailers are occupying the buildings vacated by Beales and Prestons of Bolton."

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