A LANDMARK store is set to close and the building, which opened in 1920, is on the market for £1.5million.

Havens homeware and gift store has succumbed to a growing trend towards online shopping and has begun a phased closure of its retail store in Hamlet Court Road.

With a large part of the family business now conducted online, Nigel Havens who currently runs the business with his brothers, Paul and Graham, said: “It is the end of an era and very sad. There is a shift in the way people shop. People pay lip service and say they love to come in our shop but they don’t come in .

“Our online business continues to do well and we will continue to trade online but on the retail side it is time for us to condense the whole thing down.”

The closure will be a gradual process, based upon the level of interest shown in the sale of the building.

Mr Havens said: “We will start to use less space and bring everything down to the ground floor and then wait to see what interest there is in the building.

“We are clearing out all our stock and everything must go before the final closure but we don’t have a date for that yet.”

Mr Havens said the family had thought long and hard about the decision.

He said: “It is not a decision we have taken lightly. It is the consumer’s choice to shop in a different way and we have to adapt our service. That’s what we’ve always done. Sadly we now no longer intend to have a retail store.

“It is not just in Westcliff or Southend, this trend to online shopping is happening all over the country. The whole retail scene has changed beyond recognition.

“John Lewis sells about 60 per cent of its stock online and we are at about that level.”

“One thing we have alway done is adapt as a business. We now stock perfume, jewellery and stationary. In the early days we primarily stocked china but we have developed to sell all sorts of things.

“We’ve never been afraid of change. We started our fist website in 1999 and so were fairly advanced at the time. You have to adapt.”

There is no set timescale for the closure.

Havens says there has already been interest in the iconic store. The business currently has about ten staff who are being kept informed about the radical changes to the way the business is run in future.

Havens' future

THE most likely scenario for the Havens building is for it to remain

a retail store on the ground floor, with flats above.

Estate agents Dedman Gray are handling the sale of the old building

Director, Mike Gray, said: “This certainly is one of Southend’s landmark buildings. It has lots of history and offers an ideal opportunity for somebody wanting something special.

“The Havens family are planning to occupy the ground floor for the time being. We are beginning to receive inquiries for various types of uses for the building.

“This will be an interesting investment for someone looking to consider a refurbishment programme. It would be ideal for a potential owner/occupier interested in making use of the ground floor retail space.”

Ann Holland, councillor responsible for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said she was disappointed by news of the closure and sale.

She said: “It is very sad. Havens is a well-respected company with a good presence there all these years.”

Historic store

HAVENS was founded in 1901 and has been run by successive generations every since. The family built the current store in 1920 and it was further developed in 1935 to become the eye-catching building it is now.

The business was established as a specialist retailer of china tableware, crystal glass and as a gift shop.

It has evolved over the years to sell a huge range of homeware along with perfumes, cosmetics, jewellery and bedding.

Havens is still very much a family business. The current directors are Graham, Nigel and Paul Havens, all of whom play a day to day role.

However, it seems the business is unlikely to be run by further generations of the family.

Nigel Havens, said: “My kids both work in the City and Paul’s sons are not interested in coming in to retailing and at 59 I am moving towards retiring.”

Mr Havens added: “There will be lots of bargains to be had as we move towards closing and it will be on a first come, first served basis.”