ONE of the oldest shops in the Eastgate Shopping Centre will close its doors for good “within the next six weeks”, it has been revealed.

The Body Shop, which has been ever present in the town centre since the 1980s, is closing 75 stores across the UK and it was confirmed yesterday that the Basildon store would be axed.

The high street skincare and cosmetics chain went into administration earlier this month, putting the future of all 198 shops in the country at risk.

The Eastgate Shopping Centre has been hit with a number of big-name closures in recent years, including Debenhams, H&M and many more.

Residents have been left devastated by the news.

Ashley Ross, 37, said: “It is such a shame to see yet another well-known brand closing, particularly when so many of our shops have closed and remained as empty units.

“It feels like another nail in the coffin for the town centre, which seems to be becoming more of a ghost town every day.”

Marita Crumbie, 68, added: “I am very sad to hear about the Body Shop closure. It is probably one of the only remaining shops that still exists since I moved to Basildon in 1986.

“I am at that age where shops matter as it is a way of getting out and having interaction with people. That way of life seems to be disappearing as another one bites the dust. I am very sad.”

Despite the announcement, leader of Basildon Council Andrew Baggott insisted “Basildon is open for business” and is an attractive option for retailers looking to open new stores.

He said: “It is always sad to lose a business in the borough.

“But, of course, retail has been struggling for some years now and shops will close. But when shops close, it creates an opportunity for another shop to take its place.

“We believe Basildon is on the up and is open for business. So, while it is sad to lose the Body Shop, we are confident we can welcome another business to the Eastgate.”