Family firm to bow out after 112 years
A Ryedale-based family hardware business is being forced to close after 112 years as a result of being repeatedly targeted by thieves.
Woollons and Harwood, which has a warehouse in Malton and shops in Thirsk and Helmsley, suffered three break-ins last year.
Managing director Paul Woollons said around £9,000 of stock had been stolen in the raids.
The firm, which also ran a shop in Malton for 30 years, is expected to finally close its doors at Easter, resulting in the loss of 14 jobs.
Mr Woollons, grandson of George Woollons who founded the business in York in 1901, said: “Obviously the High Street is quiet and you can cope with that but you can’t cope with continued break-ins.
“The police have been really good but these guys know what they are doing. It’s the end of the line and it’s a sad time for us.”
Thieves stole about £1,000 of Crown Derby pottery from the company’s Helmsley store in February 2012, said Mr Woollons.
And the firm’s internet business, which supported the two shops, was “destroyed” when stock worth about £8,000 was stolen in two raids on its York Road warehouse in the summer, he added.
He said: “We couldn’t leave anything in our yard at night, so everything had to come inside including the vehicles which meant we didn’t have enough storage for goods. So the rug was pulled from under us there.”
Mr Woollons said the thieves were caught on CCTV, but were wearing balaclavas. The company also invested a lot of money in new fencing but the thieves still found a way to break-in.
“They came with a carpet and put it against the fence and climbed over it. That was the catalyst that finished us off. We decided we couldn’t run it any longer.”
Attempts have been made to sell the business over the past six months and the decision to close was made after no buyer came forward, said Mr Woollons.
The company, which was established in 1901, is expected to be wound up over the next three months.
The Helmsley store will shut at the end of the month, with the shop in Thirsk and the warehouse to close by the end of March.
Mr Woollons said he was sorry to disappoint the firm’s loyal staff and customers.
“They have been absolutely fantastic. I’m really sorry it has come to this but we cannot go on being broken into,” he said.
Mr Woollons said he plans to “spend a lot of time” with his children following the closure of the business.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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