Opening a few weeks off

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Winding down...H&J Smith's Department Store staff have been busy selling stock ready for when the shop shuts it doors for the last time at the end of this month.

H&J Smith’s new downsized store is expected to open in the middle of next month.

In May, H&J Smith Group managing director Jason Smith announced in order to secure its long-term future, the business proposed to reduce the size of its retail division, including the Gore store.

A week later, chief executive John Green confirmed the Gore store would close at the end of this month but the group would continue trading in the space occupied by the menswear department at present, where a range of womenswear and menswear, along with accessories, would be sold.

Mr Green said the plan to open the new store was slightly behind schedule.

“The property owner and ourselves are putting some extra work into making sure it is a nice environment for customers and staff, including new air-conditioning, new carpet and new lighting throughout.

“Closing off the walk-through between the two stores requires a consent and once we have that we will be able to finalise the opening date,” he said.

In the final days before the store closed on Saturday the thoughts of the directors were with the staff, he said.

“It is pleasing to know that the business community have been incredibly supportive and that the majority of the team have secured new employment.

“Naturally, we regret the need to downsize and the impact that this has on what is available to the Gore community.

“However, we are equally confident that some of the opportunity will be picked up by other businesses.”

The store would sell women’s and men’s fashion brands that were well-known to Gore customers, he said.

The store opened in 1905 in the Criterion Hotel building, moving to the present building in 1913.