EACH closing shop in Stowmarket

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) will not renew the lease on it’s shop in Stowmarket, with the doors to remain shut when high streets reopen.

EACH moved in to its Ipswich Street premises just over 11 years ago, in November 2009, and ran the shop as a traditional community outlet.

Over the last few years income has steadily declined and the shop was barely breaking even before the pandemic.

Ian Nicolson, Acting EACH Director of Income Generation, said: “Despite great support the shop has received over the years, unfortunately, more recent trading levels, including before the pandemic, mean it’s no longer commercially viable for us.

“The small shop format and the difficult access for donations has made trading particularly challenging, and it has gone through a long period of slow decline that, sadly, we’ve been unable to turnaround.

“Having taken this difficult decision, we’re now going through consultation with our staff and volunteers to whom we are most thankful for the dedication and commitment they’ve given us.

“Our many other shops remain a very successful and vital income stream for us. In fact, they’ve been more important than ever when they’ve been able to open over the last year as they’ve provided a form of stable income we simply haven’t had from traditional fundraising events.

“We’re committed to continued investment in and development of our retail operation. For example, as soon as circumstances allow, we’ll be opening a new shop in Royston. If the right opportunity presented itself, we’d definitely consider returning to Stowmarket, too.”

Following the closure of Stowmarket and opening of Royston, EACH will have 43 shops across the region. Its retail portfolio was growing at a rapid pace before the pandemic, with seven shops having opened in 2019 and one in Colchester just before the first lockdown. Every time EACH has to shut its shops it loses around £100,000 income a week.

This, in part, led to the charity last month forecasting an operational deficit of £2 million over the next year. As part of a cost-saving programme in response to that, EACH recently announced it would not renew the leases on its head office in Milton or office in Ipswich, with staff based there to continue an effective mix of working from home and within hospice buildings. EACH said this would help ensure it could focus every penny it can on care delivery, during a time when its support has never been more needed as families who have been shielding become exhausted from providing care alone.

EACH also said its forecast showed why children’s hospices needed service delivery underpinned by proper statutory funding. The good cause only receives around 16% of its annual income from statutory sources, relying on over £6 million coming in from fundraising and £5 million in income from retail.

There are plenty of ways to support EACH. Find out more about getting involved and the charity’s vital work by visiting www.each.org.uk.