A contender for the title of ‘world’s oldest department store’, Bennetts in Derby, which first opened in 1734, is the latest high street casualty and has entered into administration.
It is hoped that a buyer will soon be found for the historic store, which has a second branch in Ashbourne. The store joins other prominent high street closures in 2019, including HMV and Patisserie Valerie.
For centuries a prominent feature of Derby’s city centre, Bennetts first opened as an ironmongers called Weatherhead Walters and Company, continuing to prosper until the seismic consumer shift towards online shopping, together with soaring rents and rates, took their toll.
Bridgewood Financial Solutions has been appointed the administrator and has already confirmed a small number of redundancies, although most staff have been retained as a buyer is being sought. Robin Tarling from the administrator told ITV News: “’Bennetts is an iconic retail brand which, over many years of trading, has earned a reputation for offering good quality products and great customer service. Given its pedigree we are hopeful that a buyer can be found so that Bennetts can continue to serve the local community for years to come.’
Bennetts’ claim to be the world’s oldest store is contested by Austins in Derry, Northern Ireland, which closed in 2016 aged 181. Fortnum and Mason in London is another contender for the historic accolade, alongside John Lewis in Newcastle and House of Fraser Kendals in Manchester.