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Toy shop closes after 23 years, leaving nine staff unemployed
8:58am Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
THE Early Learning Centre in Poole is to close – leaving Poole town centre with no dedicated toy shop.
The Dolphin Centre store, which has been open 23 years, will shut on March 20, leaving nine staff out of a job.
It follows the closure of the Early Learning Centre in Bournemouth town centre in June last year – part of an ongoing nationwide closure programme.
In May 2011 Mothercare, which owns the brand, announced plans to close 110 sites, including 75 Early Learning Centres over three years, as part of a move to focus on out-of-town outlets.
The nearest ELC will be within the Mothercare store at Poole Retail Park, Branksome.
The news came as a shock to staff who believed the shop had a lease until 2015.
Store manager Kevin Smith-Childs, who had been in post almost three years, said he had tried everything from themed days and fancy dress to goodie bags and charity events to help boost the store. He blamed its position, tucked away behind the escalators, for its failure to turn a profit.
He said staff had been shocked and saddened by the news.
“Customers have had a very negative reaction,” he added.
“Obviously now their nearest Early Learning Centre shop is a drive away – and their nearest toy shop is out of town.”
While shops like Beales, Boots and Argos will continue to have toys for sale in Poole, there will no longer be a destination toy shop in the town centre.
One customer told the Echo: “I shop here for Christmas, birthdays, parties.
“There aren’t many children’s outlets in the Poole area – I come in here for inspiration. My daughter is three and a half and everything here is geared up for her.”
At the moment a consultation is ongoing with staff, but they said they all expect to lose their jobs.
A Mothercare spokesperson said: “The closure of this store is in line with our current portfolio plan. We hope this has not upset any customers.”