A CHARITY shop has said declining sales and the impact of Covid have forced its closure after more than 20 years.

The Butterwick Hospice shop in Yarm is set to close later this month.

Butterwick Retail said it had made the “difficult decision” in light of economic factors which meant it was trading at about 30-35 per cent less than it had been before the pandemic.

The shop raises money to run its hospice facilities in Stockton, Bishop Auckland and Weardale.

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The charity has provided end-of-life care for thousands of people over the last 30 years.

It has had a charity shop in Yarm’s Danby Wynd for more than 20 years but plans to close it on May 21.  

The charity thanked manager Julie Farrow-Hamblen and her team of volunteers for their hard work.

A spokesperson for Butterwick Retail said: “Butterwick Retail has made the difficult decision to close our retail shop in Yarm, as the lease has expired.

“We have had a presence in Yarm for over 20 years, and we would like to express our gratitude to everyone who has supported the shop over that time.

“We are incredibly thankful to the shop manager, Julie, and her team of dedicated volunteers for their hard work over the years.

“However, in order to ensure that Butterwick Retail provides a sustainable level of income to enable Butterwick Hospice Care to continue to serve the community, various options have been considered and reviewed, and it is after this careful consideration that a decision has been made not to extend the lease.

“Unfortunately, the impact of Covid, amongst other economic factors, has seen sales decline to record levels, and we are currently trading around 30 per cent-35 per cent down compared to pre-covid levels.

“Attempts to counteract the reduction in profit have been unsuccessful and we are unable to commit to an extension of our lease of the property at this time.”

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The hospice has had a turbulent time in recent years.

Chief executive Debbie Jones revealed earlier this year that the charity was still being affected by a reduction in donations following the conviction of former boss Graham Leggatt-Chidgey.

The former chief executive was jailed for four years in 2018 after defrauding the charity using its credit card for his personal expenditure over an almost eight-year period.

It has also been criticised by the Care Quality Commission in recent months.

The hospices in Bishop Auckland and Stockton are currently rated as inadequate, while Butterwick House, in Hardwick, Stockton requires improvement.

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