Middlesbrough’s House of Fraser store has sadly closed its doors for good.
The department store, located on Linthorpe Road, shut up shop for the final time on Sunday following weeks of speculation as to its closing date. The final day saw hundreds of Teessiders flock to the store to grab as many bargains as possible, as the store held a 50% off sale on clothes and even some of the building’s fixtures and fittings.
The brand has been a part of Middlesbrough town center for almost 100 years and follows Debenhams, Miss Selfridge and Topshop which all have moved out of the town center in the last few years. Teessiders have also told of the “chaos” at the final sales and their sadness about the iconic department store closing for good.
READ MORE:Tomahawk Steakhouse owner addresses ‘cow-gate’ ahead of Saltburn restaurant opening
We spoke to a number of shoppers outside House of Fraser on its final day of operation in Middlesbrough to see what bargains people had managed to bag and what they thought of the store closing for good, and its impact upon the town center.
Julie and Cameron Nilssen, from Marske, said they had come to Middlesbrough simply for the House of Fraser closing sale today. They said: “It’s sad isn’t it. I think it’s tragic – there’s going to be nothing left in the town. It’s chaos inside, everyone is looking for a bargain!
Julie explained how the shop was even selling counters among other fixtures and fittings from across its many floors. She added: “There is some good stuff in there though that you would pay more for elsewhere. We got some new jeans and shoes – it was a really good sale.”
Ellie Gooding, who said she got a couple of little bargains, said how “nobody ever went until now” after seeing the crowds at the jam-packed sale. She explained: “I liked Debenhams better, so I’m not too bothered about it closing. It’s alright to get a little bargain, but it’s sad.”
Georgia Thomas was shopping with her parents, who were visiting the town from their home in London. Georgia’s dad, Mr Turner, said he bought “eight pairs of shoes worth £ 200” and that it worked out at about 75% off the original store price.
The trio said they were not even planning on going into the store, but saw the for sale signs and were attracted in.
Georgia said despite getting a good number of bargains, that it was “chaos” in the store as people shopped for last-minute bits before the store shut up shop. Craig Lilley, 57, was impressed by the sales, having bought a new coat that he said cost much more in other nearby Middlesbrough stores.
He said: “It’s like a 1970s jumbo sale in there. There are some good deals – I got a new jacket for £ 75 that is worth about £ 180.”
The Middlesbrough man added: “I’m devastated to be honest. This is shutting, all the shops are shutting – it’s going to be a ghost town. I really hope it gets bought back – it’s a real shame.”
The Middlesbrough store was initially due to close back in 2018, but was rescued when Mike Ashley, who also owns Sports Direct and Flannels, bought out the brand. In 2020, Middlesbrough Council bought the building for £ 1m when it acquired Captain Cook Square.
House of Fraser began as drapers H Binns Son & Co Ltd, which opened its first store in Sunderland in 1897. It quickly became popular and expanded to Darlington in 1922, which was soon followed by the purchase of Thomas Jones of Middlesbrough in 1923, and was remodeled and named Binns.
House of Fraser first traded as Binns on Corporation Road opposite the Odeon until it moved premises to the Linthorpe Road store 15 years later. The brand took over Binns in 1953, although the department store name remained unchanged up until 2006.
At the time of the new store opening, it was described in newspaper reports at the time as the “finest in the country” and “Teesside’s answer to New York”.
Earlier this week, Teesside Live reporter Eden visited the store to experience first-hand what the “chaotic” sales were like, and to see if she could spot any bargains for herself. Eden described her experience as “overwhelming” when she saw the sheer amount of clothing racks and snaking queues as closing day loomed.
Staff were reportedly informed of the store closure earlier this week when ‘two days to go’ signs were placed in the windows. However, new signs were placed in the windows on Sunday informing customers that the store would close its doors for the final time at 3.30pm.
“It’s the end of an era,” one customer added.