It’s curtains for Brighton haberdasher

Posted On 04 Oct 2022 at 9:22 pm

An old-fashioned Brighton haberdashery is closing after more than 40 years in its current premises although the owners said that they plan to relocate the store.

Closs and Hamblin – known for years as C&H Fabrics – said that it was moving out of its store in Western Road, Brighton.

Posters in the window said: “Store closing for relocation. All stock must go.”

Spacewords Brighton

The current branch of the family-owned regional chain opened in Western Road in the late 1970s having previously been based in Churchill Square.

It took over the Western Road shop from the Johnson Brothers furniture store in a 1966 building designed by architects Denman and Son – a partnership of John Leopold Denman and John Bluet Denman.

On the Brighton Past Facebook page this evening (Tuesday 4 October), Debbie Mead posted a picture of the shop captioned: “After 43 years in Western Road it’s closing.”

She said that staff had said that new premises had not yet been found but would probably be outside Brighton.

Some commenters suggested the Eastbourne branch was also due to close, with one describing the closure as a “sad sign of the times”.

Plenty spoke fondly of the café, with one saying that it was “a civilised coffee shop – no blaring music”.

Mo Marsh, a former mayor of Brighton and Hove, said that it was “another nail in the coffin of traditional high street shopping”.

Facebook commenter Sue Read said: “Another great shop gone. Sad day. Used it a lot for knitting items and got my net curtains there.”

And a fellow commenter Spike Hughes said: “Another useful shop bites the dust.”

Mo Marsh during her mayoralty

Facebook commenter Anton Green said: “It’s always been one of the brighter lights in Western Road. Very sad to see this institution shutting down.”

Facebook commenter Ksenia Semirova said: “This is terrible news. The only shop that provided proper quality material for craft. Hope they just relocating.”

A fellow Facebook commenter Diane Blank said: “My fave shop! I was quite upset when I was given the leaflet. A lovely shop to browse in and get my wool, then get a coffee. It will be much missed by me and probably many others.”

Another Facebook commenter Adrian Heft said: “We must have a tax on internet shopping before all our high streets are destroyed. They employ people and pay business rates – internet retailers need to be taxed to level up the playing field.”

The closure of the fabrics and soft furnishings shop comes despite the boom in crafts and the hobby market.

And despite the growth in online shopping, there were a number of comments along the lines of: “I like to feel the quality of the yarn.”

Three years ago – and again this year – the Hamblin family, descendants of one of the founders of Closs and Hamblin, set up individual companies, each owning one of the home and haberdashery chain’s stores. They included Closs and Hamblin Brighton Ltd and C&H Brighton Ltd.

One of the companies owned by the family, Hamblin Holdings, reported an £832,000 profit in the year to Wednesday 21 April 2021 – up from £191,000 the year before.

The business traces its roots back to London in 1933 when many more people made their own clothes, curtains and cushions.

But, like a growing number of traditional retailers, the owners appear to be weighing up the cost of the overheads linked to a physical presence in the high street.

These include rents, business rates, buildings insurance, rising utility bills, repairs and routine maintenance.

  1. Ivan Reply

    The Tunbridge Wells C&H closed a few months ago. Looks like slow death.

    • Dunia Reply

      The Winchester branch is closing down too.

  2. Dave Reply

    Council rates are a kin to shoplifting in my view. There should also be strict rent controls on commercial and a ban on converting viable locations into flats.
    Equally a lower rate of VAT should be applicable for shops with a turnover less than £1 million.
    This would massively boost jobs and give retailers the ability to raise wages.

    • Ian Reply

      Planning policy requires that any employment property be marketed for (depending on the council) between 12 and 18 months before a planning application to change the use might be changed.

      That having been said, I would prefer no business rates and an equivalent increase in Corporation Tax.

  3. Jeanette reckless Reply

    When is
    Closs & Hamblin closing, I am very 😔 😟 🙁 😥

  4. Tony Ward Reply

    If the council cared about the city, it would do something about the crippling rates. As it stands, Brighton and Hove as a retail centre is dying. Just walk around Churchill Square and look at the number of empty units. Walk down Western Road and see whats happening. Shame on you.

    • martin godden Reply

      they don’t care. it will just be more locations to put up student housing

    • BringSomeSense Reply

      Is it just rates as I’ve heard that rents are applaing and the owners don’t seem to give a monkies

    • Robin Hislop Reply

      Business rates are set by central government, and local authorities are only allowed to keep half of them. The rest is distributed by central government to local authorities as they see fit. Brighton council cannot change the rates, if you want them changed, contact your MP.

      • SussexTech22 Reply

        Dave, Tony – probably an idea to find out what you’re talking about wrt council tax and business rates here. Robin thanks for posting useful information.

      • mart Burt Reply

        Robin Hislop
        Incorrect, local councils have been retaining business rates for some time now, something they conveniently forget when quoting budget cuts…

  5. Van Diesel Reply

    Good riddance. Snotty staff and overpriced.

    • ThereIsOtheNews Reply

      Oh dear did someone hurt your feelings

    • Milliemoo Reply

      Totally agree. The staff upstairs in the Brighton branch are beyond unfriendly. In this day and age, there should be more of an onus on retail staff to at least attempt a level of etiquette and equal treatment of all customers regardless of ethnicity or class. It’s a schizoid experience in that shop – the staff on the ground floor are amazing – friendly and approachable. Whereas on the upper floor, they are snooty and disinterested. Great to hear that the ground floor department (and hopefully it’s staff too!) is being saved and relocated

  6. Sarah Reply

    Eastboure store is relocation to round the corner of the terminals road store .

  7. Bear Road resident Reply

    I’ve always found the staff polite and helpful – perhaps some people enter shops with a bad attitude to start with…
    So yet another shop that sold useful things is going – soon all you’ll be able to buy in never normal Brighton will be ludicrously expensive trainers, mobile phones, take-aways and alcohol from apparently nearly other remaining business…

  8. Anni.M Reply

    This is sad news. This store is a tremendous resource for fabrics and soft furnishings. Lovely to browse in too, especially at Christmas.

  9. Technique Reply

    This is all part of the Green vision for Brighton; to shut all shops in Western Road and Churchill Square. And build in its place twenty-seven 30-storey student accommodation blocks to house the party-faithful. It will be named Dame Caroline Quarter, in honour of their Glorious Leader.

    The only shops will sell craft beer (ofcourse), gin, mobile phones (well, they can’t live without instagram and tiktok, can they), ‘vinyl’ (actually, they are called ‘records’) pizza, and pot noodles, oh and lentils. And possibly a barbershop, so they can get their beards trimmed.

    All traffic will be banned (naturally..) Western Road and North Street will be pedestrianised and turned into a giant cycle lane, with seperate lanes for skateboards and e-scooters.

    The fountain will be demolished, and in its place will be a giant screen that shows Glastonbury 24/7.

    The playing of music and of musical instruments indoors, between midnight and 6am, at ear-splitting volume, will be actively encouraged.

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