Gore’s H&J Smith Connect store is closing its doors and the community is devastated. Group managing director Jason Smith announced last Wednesday the plan to ‘‘call time’’ on its longrunning department store business in Invercargill, Gore and Queenstown.

Former H&J’s Gore employee Ron Veint said he was sad to see the business go.

‘‘It is going to be another hole in the town,’’ Mr Veint said.

‘‘I do feel for the staff and the customers.’’ F

ormer H&J’s Gore employee Laurel Turnbull said she had fond memories ofher time there.

‘‘It is very sad, really. It’s been an icon for years,’’ Mrs Turnbull said.

‘‘It is just another sign of the times.’’

Gore resident Keriann Borlase said the closure was unfair on the staff and community.

‘‘People feel a bit ripped off,’’ Ms Borlase said.

Four people will lose their jobs in Gore.

Mr Smith said the decision was not taken lightly, and was due to changes to the department store model.

‘‘Despite successful trading for over a century, the H&J Smith Group is making the decision to call time on its department stores because it is not a sustainable model for the future,’’ Mr Smith said.

Supplier constraints, Covid-19 and restraint on reinvestment had taken a toll on the businesses in recent years, which led the group to close Dunedin, Mosgiel, Balclutha and Te Anau stores in 2020, he said.

H&J Smith chief executive John Green said the business employed 220 people, 190 of them in Invercargill.

The proposal will be consulted on for four weeks, with a final decision expected by June 23.