Published: 11:37, 15 August 2018
| Updated: 12:55, 15 August 2018
A department store which has been a stalwart in a city centre for nearly a century has confirmed it will close next month with the loss of 50 jobs.
Nasons - a fixture in Canterbury since 1929 - announced in July it was struggling to stay afloat after suffering "brutal" trading conditions.
It has confirmed hopes of a rescue deal have not come to fruition.
The store in the city centre, along with its furniture outlet in Wincheap and a warehouse unit in the city, will all close on September 11.
The decision follows an extensive consultation with staff that was unable to find a way to save the business.
Andrew Nason, chairman of Nasons, said: “This has been a very difficult and sad decision to make.
"We have explored with staff and our advisers every alternative including trying to find a buyer for the business, but with no success.
“Our staff have been terrific and I would like to thank them all for their hard work and dedication over many years.
"We have explored with staff and our advisers every alternative including trying to find a buyer for the business, but with no success..." - Andrew Nason, chairman of Nasons
"We will be supporting and assisting them over the coming weeks in finding new jobs.
“The retail environment, particularly for traditional department stores, is brutal.
"Increasing costs, rising business rates and fierce competition have proven to be just too much for retailers, many much larger than ourselves, to manage.”
Nasons is working with business and financial advisers Kreston Reeves on the closure of its stores and winding-up of the business.
It will bring the curtain down on a retail name which has been operating in the city since 1929.
It has occupied the same premises on the High Street since 1962.
Shoppers saw signs go up this week heralding a 'closing down' sale and prices of existing stock slashed.
The shop employs 35 staff, with a further eight in Wincheap and seven at its warehouse on an industrial estate on the outskirts of the city.
A spokesman for Kreston Reeves said there was still a chance it could survive in some form if a potential buyer was still to come forward.
"All options are still being explored but a decision to close in the meantime has had to be taken."
Lisa Carlson, chief executive of the Canterbury Business Improvement District, which looks to boost footfall and trade in the city centre, said the closure was "heartbreaking" and echoed fears there is likely to be more upheaval on the high street as the retail sector adjusts to our changing shopping habits and the explosion in online purchases.
She said: "It's heartbreaking for a store like Nasons, which has been around for 90 years, to be closing.
"Any time a business closes it's a cause for concern."
And she suggested it could see a shift away from retail to office space in the city centre.
"It think in the short term it is going to be very challenging for all of us but I think there are some positives we need to work towards.
"I think retail needs less space now.
"It's really sad about Nasons but the opportunity is that office space becomes more lucrative whereas it was always retail and food and beverage.
"If you have more jobs and people spending money that's got to be good."
Five years ago, Nasons director Nick Betts was forced to deny rumours the store was looking to exit the city after it sold the freehold of its Wincheap site and leased it back to raise capital. At the time, he described the outlook as "optimistic".
But the steady decline for many retailers on the high street has bitten many big names hard over recent years with a number of high profile casualties.
Just earlier this week, Canterbury discovered its Homebase store in Wincheap faced the axe following the DIY chain's disastrous takeover by the Australian firm Wesfarmers.
Nasons was founded by Fred Nason in 1929 and by the 1950s had a number of stores in Canterbury, before moving into its existing 30,000 sq ft store in the High Street where it will see out the final weeks of its existence.