Bennetts shops closed in Holt and Cromer

Shops in Cromer and Holt were closed this morning as Norwich-based electrical retailer Bennetts entered administration.

A 'Closed for Stock Take' notice in the window greeted customers to the Holt Bennetts store this morning.

The sudden closure shocked neighbouring traders in the market town's Chapel Yard shopping area.

The store moved into the yard three years ago, taking over premises which had been vacant for two years, according to Lynda Mossman, owner of nearby vintage clothing shop Past Caring.

'I'm horrified. They were different - the first big high-street trader we had had in the yard,' she said.

'We were pleased to see them filling what was becoming an eyesore after being empty for so long.'

Anthony Baron, of art shop Baron Art, said: 'It's bad and sad for a town like Holt which hasn't really felt the economic downturn yet.

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'There are already four shops on the market in this small yard.'

Mr Baron believed the store employed two staff.

He said whenever he chatted to the manageress she had told him business was doing well and that they had enjoyed a good Christmas.

He added: 'There were always cars pulling up to collect goods there.'

The Bennetts store on the North Norfolk Retail Park in Cromer was also closed this morning, with steel shutters drawn behind the windows, although signs outside still advertised the spring sale.

Six full-time and one part-time member of staff are employed at the shop.

Bennetts had applied for retrospective planning permission after moving from premises on the heart of the town on Church Street just before Christmas.

It had to seek permission from North Norfolk District Council to vary a planning condition attached to the unit so that the store would have permission to sell 'multi-electrical products', although it had already opened to customers.

A sign displaying the application still stands in front of the building today.

The original conditions were imposed when the units were given planning approval in December 2001 to 'protect the retail vitality and viability of Cromer town centre'.