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Family-run firm to close after 112 years following series of thefts.
A HISTORIC hardware company is to close its stores with the loss of 14 jobs after being repeatedly hit by thieves.
Woollons and Harwood, established in 1901 with stores in Helmsley and Thirsk and a warehouse in Malton, North Yorkshire, was targeted by thieves three times last year.
Managing director Paul Woollons said stock worth a total of about £9,000 had been stolen in the raids, and said the firm would finally close its doors at Easter.
He said: “Thieves stole about £1,000 of Crown Derby pottery from our Helmsley store in February last year, and the internet business was destroyed when stock worth about £8,000 was stolen in two raids on the Malton warehouse in the summer.”
Attempts have been made to sell the business over the past six months and the decision to close was made after no buyer came forward.
The Helmsley store will close at the end of the month, with the shop in Thirsk to close by the end of March.
Mr Woollons said he was sorry to disappoint the firm's "loyal band of customers".
"I think people are genuinely upset about it. They can't believe it after so long, but you can't go on dealing with this sort of situation."
Guy Baragwanath, Thirsk and District Business Association chairman, said: “For Thirsk this is a big loss because it is a flagship store.
“Unfortunately it is showing a trend at the moment because a lot of smaller businesses are struggling as less people are using the high street.
“There are a lot of empty shops in Thirsk now due to high rents that small independent retailers can’t afford to pay – it is something we are looking to address.”
He added: “We are looking into ways we can help businesses by suggesting landlords offer shorter lease periods, so we might see more pop-up shops but at least there will be more trading taking place.”
Thirsk Mayor Cynthia Hesmondhalgh added: “It is a great shock.
“I’m amazed this has happened and I am concerned for Thirsk as the store was such a draw to the town.
“I want to attend Woollons and Harwood’s next business meeting to see if there is anything the town council can do.”