Long-standing store to shut after 44 years

Hi-Brow, in Market Place, in the mid to late 1980s.
Hi-Brow, in Market Place, in the mid to late 1980s.

One of Sleaford town centre’s most recognisable shops is set to close its doors for a final time after more than four decades in business.

Hi-Brow Fashions will soon be disappearing from the town’s Market Place as owners Mark Wells and wife Audrey, both 67, enter retirement.

Mrs Wells opened the shop with Mark’s late mother, Margaret, in October 1970, seeing it merely as a ‘hobby’, she said.

Over the next few years, the business grew to include shops in Newark, Boston, Spalding and Lincoln, and although it has since been scaled back to just Sleaford, it has nonetheless lasted just shy of 45 years.

Mrs Wells said: “I can’t believe we have put ‘closing down’ on the shop window. We never thought it would happen.”

The couple have decided to close the shop, which is profitable, for a number of reasons, including the loss of some suppliers, the departure of tenants to whom they rent flats above the store, but also a desire to make the most of their retirement.

A closing date has yet to be set, but the couple plan to have ceased trading by the summer. The hope is to pass on the unit to another independent business, with Mr Wells saying there is a potential buyer.

Of the secret to survival in business, Mr Wells spoke of ‘always being in touch with what is going on locally’.

He said: “We were always in touch with customer needs and tried to give good customer service.”

Word that the shop would be closing prompted tributes on social media, with numerous comments made about the shop’s sign.

Mr Wells said that when the sign was installed, the business was instructed by an unhappy local authority to replace it; this, however, was never done. He described it as ‘very 70s’, ‘dated’, but added: “I think a lot of people are going to miss it at the end of the day.”