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End of an era as Boots shuts Ipswich store

PUBLISHED: 07:30 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 07:51 05 February 2020

Boots is the only original store still open from the selection of shops and restaurants that opened initially back in 1992.

Boots is the only original store still open from the selection of shops and restaurants that opened initially back in 1992.

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Ipswich town centre is facing a new blow after it emerged that Boots is to close one of its stores at the end of July.

Staff will transfer to the other Boots store in the Sailmakers Centre on Tavern Street. Picture: NEIL PERRYStaff will transfer to the other Boots store in the Sailmakers Centre on Tavern Street. Picture: NEIL PERRY

The Buttermarket branch of the high street pharmacy is the last original store left in the centre - it opened its doors on the first day of operation back in November 1992.

But the store will be merged with the larger Boots in the nearby Sailmakers centre. Staff will move to that store and the unit is expected to be marketed quickly by the centre's management.

The closure is happening just as the Butter Market street, just outside the centre, is set to see a new departure as a dental practice is applying for planning permission to move into a former hairdressing salon.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said the changes showed clearly how the town centre needed to adapt to meet the new needs of the 21st Century.

The Buttermarket shopping centre in Ipswich is to lose its Boots in the summer. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSThe Buttermarket shopping centre in Ipswich is to lose its Boots in the summer. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

He said: "I could not find a better example of what will be happening in the town centre - and what needs to happen. The retailing offer will contract as shopping habits change. Boots will still be here in their much larger store but the smaller one will go.

"Meanwhile just down the road we have a new development much needed by the community, a dental surgery, opening up in the heart of the town providing services for people who live in the heart of Ipswich.

"We will be seeing more and more people living right in the middle of the town, and some retailing units will be replaced by things like surgeries, schools, community uses for the people who live right here."

Mr Clement said that Boots had found it increasingly difficult to find a trained pharmacist to keep that part of the shop open at busy times - and often had to send people with prescriptions or who needed medication that had to be sold by someone qualified to their other branch.

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But the closure will mark the end of an era for the Buttermarket Centre - and the store is often busy with people seeking to quick trip to a pharmacy or buying sandwiches for lunch without facing queues because of large crowds.

A Boots spokesman said: "At Boots UK, we continually review our store locations to make sure they are where our customers need us most. We can confirm that we have plans to close our store in the Buttermarket Shopping Centre in Ipswich, and this is expected to happen later this year. We have another store on Tavern Street which is approximately three minutes' walk away. The store team have been made aware of the plans and will be offered jobs at the nearby Boots stores."

What else was at the Buttermarket Centre when it opened in 1992?

Owen Owen: The Liverpool-based department store was the "anchor tenant" for the new centre and became Allders a few years later which eventually went into administration in 2005.

A few months later the bottom two storeys of the store re-opened as TJ Hughes discount department store, but that failed in 2011. The ground floor is now occupied by TK Maxx while the upper floors were converted into the Empire cinema.

C&A: Took the second largest unit, near the St Stephen's entrance - closed along with the rest of the chain in 2001. C&A can still be found on the high streets of European cities.

Andy's Records: Legendary East Anglia record store chain. Many people from this region built up their CD and record collection from Andys, but the store chain struggled with the arrival of online music and went into administration in 2003.

The food court: With a Burger King franchise and many other delights on offer from baked potatoes to sandwiches, there was something for shoppers with all tastes on the go here.

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