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Toy retailer closes remaining outlets after ‘extremely difficult and challenging time’

PUBLISHED: 12:36 03 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 February 2020

Hawkins Bazaar on Westgate Street, Ipswich, back in October 2016  Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

Hawkins Bazaar on Westgate Street, Ipswich, back in October 2016 Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

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Collapsed toy shop Hawkins Bazaar – which at one time operated on Ipswich high street – has closed down all its outlets after struggling to compete with online retailers like Amazon.

An empty shop unit, which was once occupied by Hawkin's Bazaar, on Tavern Street, Ipswich  Picture; SARAH CHAMBERSAn empty shop unit, which was once occupied by Hawkin's Bazaar, on Tavern Street, Ipswich Picture; SARAH CHAMBERS

The store in Ipswich's Westgate Street closed some years ago but was still operational in 2016. However, the troubled Norwich-based chain continued to run other outlets, including in Norwich's Castle Quarter.

Closing down sales were launched across its 20 shops and online following its collapse in January, , with all stores closing after the weekend of February 2.

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It appointed Moorfields Advisory as administrators on January 23, 2020, during what has been a particularly tough period for high street businesses.

The novelty toy company, which employed around 180 people, held a final weekend of trading, but joint administrators Tom Straw and Simon Thomas said all remaining stores would close During the pre-closure sales, discounts of up to 90% were available throughout the stores.

An empty shop unit, which was once occupied by Clinton Cards, on Tavern Street, Ipswich  Picture; SARAH CHAMBERSAn empty shop unit, which was once occupied by Clinton Cards, on Tavern Street, Ipswich Picture; SARAH CHAMBERS

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Mr Straw, a partner at Moorfields, said: "We are grateful for the hard work of all staff during this extremely difficult and challenging time. We are working closely with the employees affected by the closures to ensure they receive the support they need for redundancy and other compensatory payments."

In the part of Tavern Street where Hawkins Bazaar used to operate, other shop units remain empty, in what has become a sign of the times.

As well as the unit once occupied by Hawkins Bazaar, two corner units - one of which used to be occupied by clothing retailer Monsoon, and the other by collapsed retailer Clinton Cards then outlet store Now! - are also currently empty.

An empty shop unit, which was once occupied by clothing retailer Monsoon, on Tavern Street, Ipswich  Picture; SARAH CHAMBERSAn empty shop unit, which was once occupied by clothing retailer Monsoon, on Tavern Street, Ipswich Picture; SARAH CHAMBERS

Hawkin's Bazaar, a British novelty gift and toy shop chain founded in 1973, had a "challenging" Christmas period, "reflective of the struggling high street retail sector generally", administrators said.

Mr Straw said: "Hawkin's Bazaar is a retail brand with a strong heritage both on the high street and online. Unfortunately, despite making changes to their offering to appeal to the shift in modern buying patterns, the retailer still struggled to compete with online retailers such as Amazon etc."

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