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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

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Bulloughs calls it a day after 100 years

Catwalk queen:  A model in Bulloughs in 1969

By Mark Preskett

FOR 96 years Bulloughs has stood at the forefront of Carlisle’s retail scene.

The department store has been synonymous with quality, service and choice since it first opened as a small drapery business on Castle Street in 1910.

But this week signalled the end of an era after chairman Ian Bullough – and grandson of founder Arthur Bullough – announced the family business was being sold to upmarket department store Hoopers.

The sale is good news for the store’s 150 staff and means loyal customers will still be able to shop at the historic building opposite Carlisle Cathedral.

But no longer will a member of Bullough’s family be seen wandering the aisles of the Castle Street building, which has seen four generations of the family at the helm.

Bulloughs opened in 1910 as a drapery business and the company quickly thrived, allowing Arthur to buy a family home in Houghton.

But it was during the inter-war years and, the 1930s in particular, that the business really began to prosper.

In 1939 Arthur’s son John returned from a seven-year apprenticeship in Manchester to run a successful fabrics department before taking over the running of the whole store after the death of founder Arthur Bullough in 1944.

During his rein Bulloughs bought an adjoining, dilapidated property, spending the princely sum of £35,000 on reconstructing the building.

This building housed the shop’s hairdressing salon, restaurant and shoe department.

In 1962 John was joined by his sons Ian and Michael and together they oversaw the continued expansion of the store.

In the 1970s Bullough’s acquired properties in Fisher Street and the corner of Marygate, anticipating the creation of a small shopping complex, but these properties were later sold in the 1980s.

Ian eventually retired in 2003, leaving son Edward to oversee the last three years of Bulloughs as a family business.

During his time the pressures from out-of-town supermarkets and rival department stores House of Fraser and Debenhams intensified.

Business leaders were quick to pay tribute to the Bulloughs business.

Viv Dodd, director of policy and representation at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “I’ve been living in Carlisle for 30 years and the store has dominated the High Street for many years before and since.

“It was the place you went to buy most of your household items.

“It’s sad to see the family name go and part of Carlisle’s heritage disappear but I’m pleased that the store is continuing and the staff are being retained.

“I think the store has suffered from the improvements on the High Street, fashion is changing and pressures such as internet shopping is hitting a lot of the High Street players.”

David Jackson, manager at The Lanes shopping centre, said Bulloughs suffered against the retail giants because of its size.

He said: “It’s very difficult to have a one-off business like Bulloughs.

“You need to employ buyers and your own human resources team.

“You have to have expertise in lots of different areas. Running one site can be very expensive.”

“It’s sad to see a once successful, and long-established family store have its ties severed with the city. It’s not had a good run for the past few years.”

But Mr Jackson welcomed the arrival of Hoopers, who he said would have the resources to re-establish Bulloughs as a prime shopping destination.

He said: “I know Hoopers stores and they have a great customer pull at their bases in Harrogate, Torquay, Wilmslow and Tunbridge.

“And this deal is great news for Carlisle as a shopping destination.”

The deal which was announced on Monday is due to be completed on June 26.

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