Chapmans furniture shops to close after 165 years

FOR 165 years furniture from family firm Chapmans has been a part of thousands of North East homes.

FOR 165 years furniture from family firm Chapmans has been a part of thousands of North East homes.

But the North Shields-based company has announced it will finally close its stores in Newcastle and Carlisle in September. Leases at both stores will come to an end and 29 members of staff at Newcastle and 20 employees at Carlisle will lose their jobs.

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The Chapman story began in 1847 when the family business was launched by Hedley Chapman, a man with a reputation for making fine pieces of furniture.

In 1875, after his death, his son, also Hedley Chapman, decided to branch out from North Shields and started operations in Northumberland Street, in Newcastle, where the business was eventually concentrated.

The second Hedley Chapman died in 1905 and his elder brother was killed in a motoring accident in 1919, so younger brother Norman H Chapman took control.

He made a second reputation for himself in local government and was at one time Sheriff and Lord Mayor of Newcastle. He was a member of the city council from 1936 and an alderman from 1949 until 1961.

His son Robert joined the family firm more than 30 years ago and became a director in 1947.

Another son, Donald, came into the business in 1953 after studying accountancy and gaining experience with Harrods, in London.

In 1970 the firm opened its present headquarters on Market Street, Newcastle, the former site of Tilly’s Ballroom – a move which was forced because of the development of the central motorway. And when Norman H Chapman died aged 88 in 1972, Donald Chapman became joint manager with his brother Robert.

In 1990 Donald Chapman retired and was bought out by his brother Robert and nephew John, who became managing director, becoming the fifth generation to become part of the family business. Now, to mark the closure of the store, the firm intends to have a closing down/end-of-lease sale starting the end of April and running throughout May.

Managing director John Chapman said: “This is categorically not a liquidation sale.

“The reason for closing is that, with our leases expiring, we have researched and considered the huge additional costs we would incur, together with the fact that the current tough trading conditions look set to continue for some considerable time to come.”

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