NORTHWICH councillor Sam Naylor has described the news department store Bratts is closing as 'a sad day for the town'.

Cllr Naylor said he had hoped the owners of the iconic business would decide to remain at its home of the last 160 years, despite struggling to survive amidst an ever growing online world in recent years.

He said: "I know Cheshire West and Chester council did make an offer, which was similar to ones offered to Debenhams and John Lewis in Chester.

"But I think their mind was made up.

"It's probably been on the cards for a while to be honest.

"I think it's fair to say they've been struggling for a long time now."

Cllr Naylor said the department store shopping model itself was one that had struggled more than most to successfully adapt in the era of virtual high streets.

"It's obviously been occupied by many different franchises in recent years," he said.

"At one point the family would have owned every bit inside that store but because of circumstances that has changed and other people have come in.

"You only have to look at what has happened with some of the other names in department stores, the likes of Debenhams and John Lewis.

"It seems it's maybe a bit of a broken model in the modern world."

The store was also badly flooded back in January, when the drains under the town buckled under the deluge of rain brought by Storm Christoph, but Cllr Naylor had remained hopeful it would recover and re-open.

"Up until a couple weeks ago, it seemed like the plans to re-open were going well," he added.

"People were in the building ripping the floor out.

"But the family have obviously weighed everything up and decided it was time to call it a day.

"It's very sad day for the town and in time to come, we will have to see what they're going to do with the building.

"The council need to ensure the building is well looked after and put to good use.

"We'll just have to wait and see.

"But when you see what's happened to the like of British Home Stores, Debenhams and John Lewis, there is something clearly wrong with that particular shopping model."

Staff who will lose their jobs as a result of the announcement, which Cllr Naylor estimates could be between 40 and 50 people, will be offered help and support by Cheshire West and Chester council.

He said: "Support and the opportunity to re-train will be offered to the staff who will sadly lose their jobs.

"There is a team at CWAC who will do that.

"We're there to help.

"It's very sad but we will do all we can to help them."