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Coronavirus: Jarrold store prepares to reopen after 12 weeks in lockdown

Jarrold mannequins wrapped in tissue paper

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As the store closed stock was wrapped in tissue paper to protect it from dust

One of Britain’s biggest independent stores is facing a “huge challenge” as it prepares to reopen after being shut for 12 weeks due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Jarrold, which has a five-floor department store in the centre of Norwich, is celebrating 250 years of trade this year.

But soon after it started marking the anniversary, it was instructed to close and its 390 staff were furloughed.

Chief executive of Jarrold Retail Minnie Moll said: “Lockdown has certainly been a huge challenge and now we face the new challenge of trading in a very different environment while keeping our brand experience strong.”

Exterior view of Jarrold on London Street in Norwich

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Jarrold, which is marking it’s 250th anniversary, has its flagship store in the centre of Norwich

British retail sales plummeted by record levels in April as many stores closed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Office for National Statistics figures showed the amount of goods sold fell by 18.1% last month.

Ms Moll said 100 staff would be working when it reopens on 15 June.

Despite an upturn in online trade, the business has seen a “significant loss” overall.

Jarrold fashion accessories floor wrapped in tissue paper

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Jarrold fashion accessories have been wrapped in tissue paper to protect them

Benjy's restaurant is now being used as a packing station for online orders

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Staff pick online orders from the shop floor and they then await for dispatch – Jarrold has seen a 600% growth in its online sales during lockdown

Preparations have now stepped up with about 30 workers taken off the government furlough scheme to prepare the store.

“We had thought we might be open sometime around 11 June, so when we heard it would be 15 June we were already putting in Perspex screens at tills and floor stickers to mark out social distancing are shortly arriving,” she said.

Jarrold ladies fashion floor wrapped in tissue paper

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The store is also providing face masks for staff who wish to wear them

Perspex screens installed at Jarrold till points

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Jarrold

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Perspex shields have been installed at till points to help protect staff and customers

Chief executive of Jarrold Retail Minnie Moll

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Jarrold

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Chief executive of Jarrold Retail Minnie Moll said she was excited to be reopening the store

While no retail firm is ruling out possible future redundancies in the current climate, Jarrold is hoping customer loyalty will help it succeed.

Ms Moll said a trading recovery would be “long and slow”.

“That’s the reality and there’s no room for complacency,” she said.

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Jarrold: The history of a family-run firm

Jarrold Christmas advert, 1934

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Jarrold

  • 1770: John Jarrold I opens his grocers and drapers in the Market Place, Woodbridge, Suffolk
  • 1811: John Jarrold II buys a farm at Dallinghoo, Suffolk and, aside from mixed agriculture, he establishes a printing press there
  • 1823: Sets up as a bookseller, publisher and printer in Norwich, at 3 Cockley Lane (now London Street)
  • Early 1900s: Printing works in Norwich employ about 1,500 workers
  • 2005: Sale of printing and publishing arms, with focus now solely on retail and property

Source: Jarrold website

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Photos: Martin Barber

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