SHOPPERS have rallied to support Boswells department store following the shock announcement that it is almost certain to close in 2020.

Residents and retailers were stunned last week when directors revealed that the store on the corner of Broad Street and Cornmarket, trading since 1738, will have to shut because it is no longer profitable.

Oxford Mail:

The announcement came on Wednesday after about 70 staff were told they faced redundancy and would need to find new roles elsewhere.

READ AGAIN: Boswells in Oxford set to close next year

Now director Sarah Pearson, a descendant of Arthur Pearson, who took over the business in 1890, has welcomed the support of the public.

She said: “The day after the news came out we had a very busy day’s trading in the store.

Oxford Mail:

“We have had such positive lovely feedback from our customers and the overwhelming response to the news, and the overwhelming sentiment, is that they are so sad to see us going - but they can see the changing nature of the high street.”

Shoppers’ support has come too late to save the historic department store but it is not too late to snap up some bargains for Christmas.

READ MORE: Cafe closed at Boswells

Ms Pearson added: “People know this Christmas is likely to be the last one at Boswells so it would be lovely if they could come in over Christmas and shop with us.

“Everything is on sale and there are discounted items throughout the store.”

Ms Pearson said staff, some of whom have worked there for decades, had been ‘positive and supportive’ when told the news.

Oxford Mail:

She added: “We are so grateful to them for being loyal and supportive.”

There was an indication that all was not well at Boswells last month when the 1738 tearoom, which opened in 2015, closed suddenly.

Shoppers also noticed that signs in the store showed numerous product lines crossed out and the customer toilets were shut.

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No closure date has yet been revealed and Ms Pearson said it was likely that further announcements would be made after Christmas.

Directors Ms Pearson and her cousin Jonathan Pearson revealed last week that the momentous decision to hire a retail property consultant with a view to selling the building was taken at a meeting in Windsor last Monday with two other directors.

Oxford Mail:

Staff were warned at a previous meeting in August that the store would either close or undergo a major revamp involving some redundancies.

London-based retail property consultants GCW has been hired to advise Boswells regarding the sale of the city centre building.

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Part of the Boswells building - the Broad Street side - is leased from the city council and it is thought that the lease runs until 2059.

READ AGAIN: Your memories of Boswells

Civic leaders are now thinking about what could replace Boswells once it goes and whether this would be a new retailer or a different business and city council bosses have pledged to work with Boswells.

The future of the Debenhams store opposite Boswells is still in doubt.