THE clothing branch of the Vinegar Hill boutique in Henley is closing its doors after more than four years.
The last day of trading at
VH & Co at Duke Street will be next Saturday, but the adjoining housewares and lifestyle store will remain open.
Chief executive Richard Austin said the fashion side of the business has consistently underperformed and the coronavirus pandemic has hastened the decision to shut down.
The store, which took over the old Hubbledays store in February 2017, has three employees who the company hopes to find alternate roles to avoid layoffs.
Vinegar Hill was founded 22 years ago, with the opening of the first branch in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Mr Austin said: âWe have several other stores in the group in equally charming market towns, but we have a limited fashion supply and only three in total.
âThe heart of the company is the household items and lifestyle side. We opened at Henley six years ago, but we have never played at the level we would have liked on the fashion side.
âWe have created a very good local clientele and a destination with the lifestyle store.
âI think we would have given it a little longer if it hadn’t been for the covid, but ultimately it was the catalyst that drove us to make the call. Things have been incredibly difficult over the course of the course. last year we had to close as a non-essential retail business.
âWe didn’t know at the time if there would be more blockages and we receive a lot of our products six months in advance.
âIf you get it wrong and can’t open it has a big impact down the line. The impact on our cash flow has been enormous.
The lease for the unit was for five years, which was another reason to make a decision now.
Mr Austin said: âIt was not an easy decision as we have never closed any of our stores before.
âBefore covid, rather than shutting down, we were looking at what we could do to improve the store and are looking at additional marketing.
âWe’ve tried various things over the years, but things never got better and we never got the attendance we hoped for.
âHenley has been going through a tough time in terms of overall attendance and traffic can be a problem. “
The housewares store, which opened in the former Browns store in 2015, will continue to sell jewelry and fashion accessories.