Much-loved Farnham shoe shop faces uncertain future

Friday 14th January 2022 9:41 am

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A MUCH-LOVED shoe shop in The Borough, Farnham, faces an uncertain future after staff were told to start a ‘closing down sale’ in the new year.

Bowleys Fine Shoes opened in the former T Elliot and Sons shoe shop premises at 40 The Borough in 2000, and has been doing a roaring trade for the past 22 years – 17 years of which have been under current manager Sam Kirk.

However, its parent company Johnsons Shoes – itself a family-run operation dating back to 1952 – entered administration in early 2020, and the business was sold to Leeds-based Daniel Footwear.

Daniel initially retained the company’s existing stores in Teddington, Twickenham, Walton-on-Thames, Farnham, Staines and Northwood.

But two, Teddington and Twickenham, have since closed – and now it seems Farnham could soon follow suit with its sale in full swing.

A closing date has not yet been set, however, and there are hopes the shop could reopen as a Daniel Footwear branch, adding to the independent retailer’s existing 20 stores in the UK.

Bowleys Fine Shoes has five staff, two full-time and three part-time, and a “very loyal” customer base, many of whom were left in tears after hearing of the closing down sale, said long-time manager Sam Kirk.

“It’s the end of an era,” Sam added. “We haven’t been given a closing date, so there’s always hope. But after 17 years, I expect it’s going to be an emotional day when it comes.”

An attractive, three-storey, timber-framed building, 40 The Borough dates from the 17th century, and has over the centuries served as a post office, The Goat’s Head Inn (lending its name to the adjacent Goat’s Head passage), The Spinning Wheel antiques shop, and latterly a shoe shop.

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