Byham family to close Cornard shop after more than 40 years

BETTER TIMES: Henry Byham (second left) with the rest of his family celebrating the company's 100th anniversary  last year.
BETTER TIMES: Henry Byham (second left) with the rest of his family celebrating the company's 100th anniversary last year.

A family-run convenience store in Great Cornard, which has been operating for more than four decades, is to shut.

Eleven employees at the Dairy Store Spar shop in Broom Street have been told they will lose their jobs, with the shop due to close on May 18.

The store is run by H Byham & Son Ltd, which also operates a milk delivery service in Sudbury and the surrounding area, and a bakery, The Patisserie, in Long Melford.

Company director Henry Byham confirmed the closure to the Free Press on Thursday.

“It is very unfortunate as we have been trading here for a long time,” said Mr Byham.

“Our area of retail is very competitive and that is the main reason.”

The shop has been owned by the Byham family for 45 years and has included a sub-post office for around 30 years.

Mr Byham, who runs the business with his brother Nigel and parents Janet and Peter, said the decision had not been taken lightly.

“It has been hard for us to make this decision but trading patterns and conditions have changed dramatically,” said the 48-year-old.

“I have grown up with the shop and we have been lucky to be able to serve the public for so many years.”

The headquarters of the company is based in Ballingdon Street, Sudbury, where its home delivery milk service is run from. The business was started by Mr Byham’s great-grandfather, also called Henry.

Mr Byham said that staff had been informed of the impending closure, adding that other parts of the business were not under threat.

“This was not the news we wanted to tell staff or our customers and it is very sad,” he said.

“It is very difficult, but is not a knee-jerk reaction – it is something that we have thought long and hard about.

“We are fortunate that we have other facets to the business and it is just the store that we have had to address.

“It is time for us to move on with other parts of the business.”

He added that the Post Office had been notified about the closure and there was a chance the service would continue at the premises.

“We will have to see what the Post Office decides to do but it may remain for a while even after the shop is gone,” said Mr Byham.

“We are sorry this is happening and appreciate all the support we have had from staff and customers.”

Last year, the shop faced charges that it sold alcohol to children under the age of 18. Mr Byham appeared in court in October after an employee was targeted in a Trading Standards sting operation.

Mr Byham and the business were cleared of the charges.

District councillor Peter Beer said he was shocked by the closure.

“It has been there for such a long time and this is really disappointing,” he said.

“It is such a pity and I feel for the employees because it is so sudden, but if you do not use it, you lose it.”